Discovering Louise Nevelson

Model For Night Presence IVSo yesterday B and I went into SF in the afternoon to visit our friends D and P and get some cultcha. We went to the deYoung museum in Golden Gate Park and took in the Louise Nevelson exhibit.
For some reason I did not know who Nevelson was. I read her bio on the large placard and started looking at her mostly wood sculptures, but she was unfamiliar to me. A gap in my art education. I liked her work a lot, her way of using found scrap wood and then painting it all matte black (later white and still later gold) and then assembling it into towering cubes of surfaces, patterns, shadow and depth. I liked her obvious cubism influences and her prints and drawings.
When looking at a wooden piece (shown above) called Model for Night Presence IV, I suddenly did a double take. I knew this work, or at least the work it was a study for. Night Presence IV is in fact a huge metal sculpture situated on Park Avenue (in the middle of the boulevard) at 92nd street, the intersection nearest to my parents’ apartment.
I never really liked that sculpture much. It’s a muddy brown color and the scale is kind of oppressive. Also, we were young when we moved up there (it had only been dedicated, it turns out, a year earlier), and it’s not quite the right size for climbing on, especially when compared to Hans Christian Andersen or the Mad Hatter in Central Park.
The shapes were incomprehensible to me as well, but looking at the small wooden sculpture I liked it very much. I could see that the cut round pieces of wood were from balustrades or carpentry. The wavy columns looked sensuous and inviting. The shape harmonious overall. Was it simply a matter of scale? Looking at a photo of the large sculpture (and consulting the memory imprinted in my mind) the proportions seem different, but is that simply a matter of foreshortening and perspective or did she truly alter the design when going from the wooden model to the metal final version?
Also, will I now appreciate and even like the sculpture next time I’m visiting at home, now that I know who made it and how it was made? Only time will tell.

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3 Responses to “Discovering Louise Nevelson”

  1. xifer Says:

    Better yet are pictures of the four of us in our seventies style coats peeking out and arrayed about the scuplture. I’ll have to dig one up for you.

  2. Dave Says:

    There’s a Nevelson sculpture at the intersection of Market Street and Clipper in SF. It’s on the Clipper part of the intersection right next to the bus shelter. Been there for years and nobody pays it any mind. I notice no mention of it was made in any of the Nevelson reviews, either.

  3. Amber Says:

    Hey
    her work is the awesomest art ever… I am so glad I got her for an art project.
    I’m gonna have alot of fun dressing up and playing the role of Louise Nevelson… Except I don’t have any Idea how to say her name. LOL!!!

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