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Louise Nevelson had an independent spirit that couldn't be bought. But boy did they try. 

It started with her first marriage to Manhattan businessman Charles Nevelson, when Charles forbade his bride from studying art. The exchange for this was a life of luxury, but the compromise caused Nevelson to fall into a deep depression. Luckily for the world of art, she eschewed her husband's attempts to bribe her away from her calling, and pursued an artistic career anyway.

Nevelson arrived in America from Kiev, Ukraine at six years old, settling in Rockland, Maine with her family. As a Jewish family, they were forced to leave the Ukraine due to the pogroms happening throughout Russia. Nevelson was the captain of her basketball team, but quickly fell in love with art. Woodwork was in her veins, as Nevelson’s father and grandfather were in the timber business. Nevelson used materials such as baseball bats, chairs, headboards, and then painted them all black to create monumental, abstract sculptures. About her choice to only work in black, Nevelson declared to a local librarian, “I want to be an artist. A sculptor. I don’t want color to help me.” 

Though Nevelson was kicked out of art classes for lacking talent, and several gallery owners rejected her work, she was determined to make her art known to the world. She studied under Hans Hofmann, first at his school in Munich, then in New York, and also worked as an extra in films in Vienna and Berlin to get by financially.

Apart from her spectacular sculptures, Nevelson is known for her impeccable sense of style. An admiration for timber isn’t the only thing in the family veins. Her mother, Minna, created an armor against social rejection (being the only Russian Jewish family in their community) by clothing herself and her daughters in expensive, fashionable clothing. Nevelson retained this sensibility as an adult, earning the nickname “the Hat” thanks to all the fabulous chapeaux she wore.

Success came late to Nevelson, who only achieved financial comfort when she reached her sixties. Before this, she struggled, and was downtrodden when her art wasn’t being seen. Career success kept soaring, and by the time she reached eighty years old, she was finally elected into the American Academy  of Arts and Letters.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson (September 23, 1899 – April 17, 1988) was an American sculptor known for her monumental, monochromatic, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures. Born in the Poltava Governorate of the Russian Empire (present-day Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine), she emigrated with her family to the United States in the early 20th century. Nevelson learned English at school, as she spoke Yiddish at home.

By the early 1930s she was attending art classes at the Art Students League of New York, and in 1941 she had her first solo exhibition. Nevelson experimented with early conceptual art using found objects, and dabbled in painting and printing before dedicating her lifework to sculpture. Usually created out of wood, her sculptures appear puzzle-like, with multiple intricately cut pieces placed into wall sculptures or independently standing pieces, often 3-D. The sculptures are typically painted in monochromatic black or white.

A prominent figure in the international art scene, Nevelson participated in the 31st Venice Biennale. Her work has been included in museum and corporate collections in Europe and North America. Nevelson remains one of the most important figures in 20th-century American sculpture.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Louise Nevelson