Lot 7
  • 7

Louise Nevelson

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  • Louise Nevelson
  • Tropical Night Disc
  • welded and painted aluminium
  • 287 by 238 by 200cm.
  • 113 by 93 3/4 by 78 3/4 in.


Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner in 1977


Germano Celant, Louise Nevelson, Milan, 2012, no. 392, illustrated pp. 261-62 

Catalogue Note

Louise Nevelson was a leading sculptor of the twentieth century, whose works brought the concept of installation art firmly to the foreground of American culture. Like many of her contemporaries, some also represented in this exhibition, Nevelson incorporated into her constructions old bits of furniture and pieces of wood that she found discarded on the streets around her studio. Consolidating her disparate elements into compact, box-like structures, she would then paint them in a unifying, monochromatic colour.

Nevelson faced searing sexism throughout her career. One reviewer of her first solo exhibition at Nierendorf Gallery wrote: ‘We learned the artist is a woman in time to check our enthusiasm. Had it been otherwise, we might have hailed these sculptural expressions as by surely a great figure among Moderns’. Nevelson railed against gendered stereotyping: a firm believer that art reflected the individual and not masculine-feminine labels, she even disputed being called a feminist, as it spoke of further reduction to gender: ‘I’m not a feminist. I’m an artist who happens to be a woman’. Nonetheless, her dark and monumental sculptures challenged the notional vision of ‘female art’ and as such Nevelson was fundamental in redefining the possibilities for women in art, and was a key (though indirect) proponent of the Feminist Art Movement in 1970s America.

Nevelson began to gain popularity and even critical acclaim during the 1950s. It was this decade, too, when she started to experiment with monumental sculpture. It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, that her work achieved national recognition. In 1962 she became the first American sculptor to be represented by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; in this same year she was selected to represent the United States at the XXXI Venice Biennale and she also made her first museum sale – the black wall-sculpture Young Shadows (1959-60) to the Whitney Museum of American Art. By 1975, the year that Tropical Night Disc was conceived, Nevelson was established as one of the leading figures of contemporary art in America, with a reputation that extended worldwide. The scale of Tropical Night Disc – standing nearly three metres high – its consuming black colour and disparate angular elements mark the culmination of Nevelson’s experiments with form and encapsulate the key themes that characterised her output throughout her career.