One of the most important and innovative artists of the twentieth century, Louise Nevelson (18991988) redefined modern sculpture and influenced artists of subsequent generations with her avant-garde environmental installations. Her best-known worksfound objects such as moldings, dowels, spindles, and furniture scraps assembled into wooden or steel box structures and entirely painted black, gold, or whitedefied categorization in the 1950s, but undoubtedly paved the way for what would come to be called installation art by the 1970s. Inspired by Mayan ruins in Guatemala and Mexico, Nevelsons boxed-in works eventually reached monumental proportions. Sky Cathedral, 1958, in the collection of MoMA and Sky Gate New York, 1978, installed at the World Trade Center, but destroyed during the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001, exemplify the impressive outsized installations she designed for indoor and outdoor spaces around the world. Irrespective of scale, Nevelsons work continues to have a huge impact. Nearly thirty years after the artists death, her masterful use of dense weighty materials to create surprisingly airy studies of volume and light appears as strikingly fresh as ever.
Coinciding with Moderna Museets exhibition dedicated to Nevelsons lesser-known collage oeuvre (September 9, 2017January 14, 2018), McCabe Fine Art
is presenting a diverse selection of the artists late career works. Five black-painted wooden sculptures made between 197576 are prime examples of the artists mature style. Nailing and gluing salvaged wooden objects into boxy frames, Nevelson privileges form over function in rhythmic asymmetrical compositions. A final coat of black paint obscures her found materials useful origins while creating beautiful tonal contrasts as light and shadow play over the monochromatic three-dimensional surfaces. Like a virtuoso marble carving, Nevelsons sculptures captivate with their subtle and stark shifts in tone and texture.
Also on view are four mounted collages from the 1970s and 1980s. Heavily influenced by Cubism, Nevelson began making collages in the 1950s. These late-career works mounted on board recall classical European abstraction with their combinations of found objects, paint, cardboard and fabric. In stark contrast to her monochrome sculptures, Nevelsons collages appear delicate and spirited thanks to whimsical gold flourishes and touches of color.