1899-1988 | Russian-American
Volcanic Magic XXV
Wood, paper and metal collage
Signed and dated “Nevelson ‘85” (lower center)
Louise Nevelson, known for both her larger-than-life artistic creations and personality, was a pioneer of modernist sculpture in mid-century America. She pushed the boundaries of both sculpture and painting with her puzzle-like, found object constructions in matte, monochromatic tones. The present collage, among her final works and hailing from her acclaimed Volcanic Magic series, represents some of the most visually impactful and uninhibited work of her career.
A thoughtful and balanced assemblage of wood, metal and paper, this work demonstrates both Nevelson’s lifelong fascination with found objects and her willingness to experiment with her favorite motifs. For Nevelson, manipulating and combining discarded objects was an opportunity to call to mind familiar images from the surrounding world, allowing the objects to transcend their original form. This is true more than ever in her Volcanic Magic series, in which the artist takes a bold departure from her earlier works, which were unified by a single color. By leaving her objects in a more natural state rather than coating them in paint, Nevelson explores contrasting textures while encouraging a study of each individual element of the composition.
Nevelson was born in 1899 in czarist Russia, but her family emigrated to the small, coastal town of Rockland, Maine when she was a child. Her father owned a lumberyard where Nevelson grew up playing with scraps and wood, and she began taking art classes as a teenager. At the age of 20, she married and moved to New York where she was drawn into the city’s vibrant artistic community, and after her marriage ended, she studied with abstract painter Hans Hofmann in Munich, who introduced her to Cubism and collage.
She began creating her signature abstract assemblages in the 1950s, which bulleted her to the forefront of mid-century New York’s gallery system. She participated in the pioneering Sixteen Americans group show at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1959–60 and was showcased at the prestigious Venice Biennale of 1962. Today, Nevelson’s works belong to important modern art collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Guggenheim (New York) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Washington, D.C.), among others.
Created in 1985
Board: 39 5/8" high x 31 3/4" wide
Frame: 41 5/8" high x 33 5/8" wide