Louise Nevelson

16 Feb — 7 Apr 2017 at Cortesi Gallery in Lugano, Switzerland

Louise Nevelson. Courtesy of Cortesi  Gallery
Louise Nevelson. Courtesy of Cortesi Gallery
18 JAN 2017

Cortesi Gallery, Lugano, is pleased to present the exhibition Louise Nevelson. Assemblages and Collages, a remarkable selection of 29 works realised by the artist between 1960 and 1980.

Louise Nevelson (Kiev, 1899 –New York, 1988) was born in the Ukraine but emigrated to theUnited States in her early years. She is one of the most influential figures of the 20th century, an epoch that she lived to see almost in its entirety.Nevelson turned to collages from the mid-50s and these works clearly show the influence of Cubism, which she encountered during research trips in Europe.

Realised on wooden or paper boards and in different dimensions, the collages reveal the artist’s attention to perspective, chromaticism, spontaneity of execution and compositional balance. To this first kind of artistic production, Nevelson added assemblages: in both cases, the works are realised by collecting scrape wood and metals bits found in the streets of New York.Reclaimed materials that, as such, tell a story, have a past that Louise Nevelson takes into account when re-assembling the pieces. In her sculptures, we recognise everyday objects –from table and chair legs, to balustrade and more –that the artist re-uses with a sensibility that wavers between New Dada and Abstractionism, but that alsolooks back at pre-Columbian and Mesoamerican sculpture she became fascinated with during a trip to Mexico in 1950.

However, despite these many references, the final result is extraordinarily original, making it impossible to be pigeonholed.For assemblages, the artist preferred monochrome –in particular, black and gold –as evident in the works on show at Cortesi Gallery. Using a solid colour, the dimension of the objects is flattened while the attention placed on the game of lights and shadows generatedby the surfaces, enhancing their evocative aspects.The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Fondazione Marconi (Milan) and is accompanied by a catalogue produced by Mousse Publishing, which includes a critical essay by curator Bruno Corà.

Leah Berliawsky, known as Louise Nevelson (Pereyaslav- Kiev, 1899 –New York, 1988), was born near Kiev to a Jewish family and was forced to emigrate in 1905 to the United States because of anti-Semitic laws enacted in her country a few years earlier. She grew up in Rockland, Maine, then moved to New York, returning to Europe years later to study with Hans Hoffman. On her return to the United States, she worked first as an assistant to Diego Rivera and later as an art instructor in the Works Progress Administration.

In 1941, her first solo exhibition was held, and in 1946, she was first invited to participate in the annual exhibition at the Whitney Museum, in which she took part several times.Her numerous exhibitions include her participation at the Venice Biennale in 1962, when she represented the United States. She also exhibited at the Jewish Museum, New York (1965, 2007); the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1967, 1970, 1980, 1987, 1998); the Civic Gallery of Modern Art, Turin (1969); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1973); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1973); National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome (1976); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1986); Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome (1994); Centre national d'art et de culture Georges Pompidou, Paris (1997); Rome Foundation Museum, Rome (2013) and Mediterranean Foundation in Catania (2013–2014). With the collective, Sixteen Americans, at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1959–60); The Art of Assemblage, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (1961); the Carnegie International (1958, 1961, 1964, 1970); and Documenta in Kassel (1964, 1968).Many of her works also form part of both private and institutional collections, as well as several public art installations in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia.