The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson

Constructing a Legend

Edited by Brooke Kamin Rapaport; Essays by Arthur C. Danto, Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Harriet F. Senie, and Michael Stanislawski; Chronology by Gabriel de Guzman

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A comprehensive look at Louise Nevelson’s career as a pioneering sculptor

Louise Nevelson (1900–1988) was a towering figure in postwar American art, exerting great influence with her monumental installations, innovative sculptures made of found objects, and celebrated public artworks. The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson focuses on all phases of the artist’s remarkable ascent to the top of the art world, from her groundbreaking works of the 1940s to complex pieces completed in the late 1980s. The most extensive study of Nevelson to be published in over 20 years, this beautifully illustrated book also demonstrates how Nevelson’s flamboyant style and carefully cultivated persona enhanced her reputation as an artist of the first rank.
Essays by distinguished scholars examine a wide variety of important issues and themes throughout Nevelson’s career, including the role of monochromatic color in her painted wooden sculpture; the art-historical context of her work; her acclaimed large-scale commissioned artworks, which established her as a central figure in the public art revival of the late 1960s; and her “self-fashioning” as a celebrated artist, particularly her origins as a Ukrainian-born Jewish immigrant to the United States. An illustrated chronology and exhibition history accompany the text.
Published in conjunction with the first major exhibition of Nevelson’s work in America since 1980, this book provides essential information on and insights into the study of a revolutionary 20th-century artist.

Brooke Kamin Rapaport is a curator and writer. Arthur C. Danto is Emeritus Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Gabriel de Guzman is Curatorial Program Coordinator at The Jewish Museum. Harriet F. Senie is professor of art history at the City College of the City University of New York. Michael Stanislawski is Nathan J. Miller Professor of Jewish History at Columbia University.


The Jewish Museum, New York (May 5 – September 16, 2007)

de Young, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (October 27, 2007 – January 13, 2008)

"Nevelson's work appeals to young artists, and the story of her triumph as a woman sculptor against considerable odds is inspiring for young people. . . . Finally, [Nevelson] is reclaimed as the visionary she was in this suitable dazzling and illuminating overview in which Rapaport and her superb contributors, including Arthur C. Danto, match measured biography with judicious critical commentary and superb photographs. Given to oracular and contradictory pronouncements, Nevelson herself remains a riddle. But her daring and transfiguring work, which finds beauty and value in the broken and the cast-off, speaks a universal language. The world is a rich place with Nevelson back in view."—Booklist (starred review)

"This [book] combines large, lush images of Nevelson's work with essays on her art and personal life. . . . Observational gems stud these essays. . . . Comprehensive and evenly balanced between text and image, this is the volume Nevelson devotees have been waiting for."—Publishers Weekly

"This beautifully and extensively illustrated catalog, published in association with the Jewish Museum, contains essays by exhibition curator Rapaport, Michael Stanislawski, Arthur C. Danto, and Harriet F. Senie. Together they explore biographical and art-historical aspects of Nevelson's work and provide updated insights and analyses. . . . This is a most welcome addition to the canon of this towering figure in 20th-century American art. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

‘The brilliant reproductions give a fine flavour of Nevelson’s genius.’---Jewish Chronicle

"This commanding show and its important catalogue go a long way toward recontextualizing Nevelson's elegant, challenging, and, in its own way, problematic production."—Mona Hadler, Woman's Art Journal

Listed as #1 on the Editors' Top 10 List on Arts & Photography for 2007 by

Winner of the 2009 Henry Allen Moe Prize for catalogues of distinction in the arts, given by the New York State Historical Association.
ISBN: 9780300160253
Publication Date: September 8, 2009
Publishing Partner: Published in association with The Jewish Museum
256 pages, 9 x 11
37 b/w + 140 color illus.

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