The Poetry of Collage
Louise Nevelson created groundbreaking Art from Debris and Leftovers
Munich, March 27, 2019
The freedom of art is reciprocal: it defines the work, but also its creator. Louise Nevelson was an exalted appearance, she liked to wear flowing dresses, big jewellery, fake eyelashes and enormous hats and she led a self-determined, independent life, which she dedicated exclusively to her art. "Louise Nevelson did not receive international recognition for her groundbreaking work until quite late," says Silke Thomas, "but she had already heard the call of art in her childhood, and she followed it unconditionally.” Galerie Thomas Modern is showing 29 collages by the artist, who passed away in New York in 1988.
"I'm a collagist"
Louise Nevelson's work follows different lines, but culminates in the collage for which she is still famous today. "I have come to recognize that the way I think is collage," said the artist herself. The basic structure is made up of wooden boxes open at the front, which she assembled into architectural environments. They are filled with found objects of all kinds – chair backs, bedposts, door handles, civilization garbage, which the artist collected on tireless wanderings through New York, stored in her house and laid out in her studio to form compositions. "In the new context of the artwork," says Silke Thomas, "created in the field of tension between chance and artistic control, the remnants of the cultural society unfold their own new poetry."
Art as a Life Task
Louise Nevelson, one of the leading female sculptors of the twentieth century, was a pioneer of site-specific art and installations. Already as a teenager, she was fascinated by art, and her father gave her a sound education for that time. "My life had a blueprint from the beginning (...) What I am saying is that I did not become anything, I was an artist", Louise Nevelson said once.
In 1931, she went to Munich to study with Hans Hofmann, later one of the founders of the New York School. In Peggy Guggenheim's ground breaking exhibition "Exhibition by 31 Women", 1943, she was represented alongside Frida Kahlo and Dorothea Tanning.
Nevelson received recognition for her sculptures made of old furniture and other wooden elements. She placed them in nested, box-like structures, which she then painted in black, white, or gold. With her compositions Nevelson explored the relational possibilities of sculpture and transferred the objectification of the outside world into a personal landscape.
With her participation in the Venice Biennale in 1962 and documenta in Kassel in 1964 and 1968, the "Grande Dame of Contemporary Sculpture" achieved her international breakthrough. The Whitney Museum, New York, dedicated a retrospective to her on her 80th birthday, and today her work is represented in over 90 public collections worldwide.