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Louise Nevelson

Art is Life

Laurie Wilson


The story of Louise Nevelson’s remarkable life and art, with extensive new detail uncovered by biographer Laurie Wilson


In 1929, Louise Nevelson was a disappointed housewife with a young son, surrounded by New York's vibrant artistic community but unable to fully engage with it. By 1950, she was a working artist living on her own. Though financially dependent on her family, she had received a glimmer of recognition from the establishment: inclusion in a group show at the Whitney Museum of America Art. In 1980, Nevelson celebrated her second Whitney retrospective. Her work was held in public collections around the world; her massive steel sculptures graced public spaces in seventeen states, including the Louise Nevelson Plaza in New York City's Financial District.

The story of Nevelson's artistic, spiritual, even physical transformation (she developed a taste for outrageous outfits and false eyelashes made of mink) is dramatic, complex and inseparable from major historical and cultural shifts of the twentieth century, particularly in the art world. Art historian and psychoanalyst Laurie Wilson brings a unique and sensitive perspective to Nevelson's story, drawing on hours of interviews she conducted with Nevelson and her circle. Nearly one hundred images, many of them drawn from personal archives and never before published, make this the most visually and narratively comprehensive biography of this extraordinary artist yet published.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.0 x 16.5 cm

Extent: 528 pp

Publication date: 20 October 2016

ISBN: 9780500094013

Contents List

1. Russian Roots 1899–1905 • 2. Rockland Childhood 1906–1919 • 3. Marriage and Motherhood 1920–1925 • 4. Art at Last 1929–1934 • 5. The Beginning of Sculpture 1934–1940 • 6. Surrealism 1940–1946 • 7. Death and Reparation 1946–1953 • 8. A Forgotten Village 1954–1957 • 9. Moon Garden Breakthrough 1958–1960 • 10. Glittering Glory 1960–1962 • 11. Icarus 1962–1963 • 12. Architect of Reflection 1964– 1965 • 13. Empress of the Environment 1966–1968 • 14. Mistress of Transformation 1969–1971 • 15. La Signora of Spring Street 1972–1974 • 16. Large Scale 1975–1976 • 17. “The Nevelson” 1967–1988 • 18. The Chapel and the Palace 1978–1979 • 19. A Big Birthday 1980–1985 • 20. The End 1986–1988

About the Author

Laurie Wilson is an art historian and practising psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Psychoanalytic Institute at NYU Medical School. She has been writing about Nevelson since the late 1970s, including essays for the 1980 retrospective at the Whitney Museum.