PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston September 2023

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Page 27 of 115

a TOTEMIC Exhibition: LOUISE Nevelson I n the recent tradition of shining a deserved spotlight on women artists, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art has unveiled "The World Outside: Louise Nevelson at Midcentury" (through January 7, 2024). It's one of the first exhibitions to examine the avant- garde artist's mid-century sculptures and works on paper within the context of the cultural and aesthetic landscape that informed her vision. And what a rich context that is, given that Nevelson was born in the last year of the 19th century, and her career flourished through the heady 1980s. She was born Leah Berliawsky near Kiev, Russia (now Kyiv, Ukraine). Her parents immigrated to the United States with their four children in 1905 and settled in Rockland, Maine, where her father started a lumber business and later bought, sold, and built houses — perhaps one reason why his daughter's work often incorporates found wood materials. She became Louise Nevelson after marrying Charles Nevelson in 1920. The Carter's exhibition brings together more than 50 of her key artworks, including wall works, installations, and prints that are definitive of Nevelson's style. Many are shown together for the first time, illustrating her mastery of form and confirming her role in interpreting the artistic, economic, and political currents of the mid-20th century. We caught up with curator Shirley Reece-Hughes, curator of paintings, sculpture, and works on paper at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, on the eve of the much-anticipated exhibition opening. On your first connection with Nevelson's artwork. Shirley Reece-Hughes: I first encountered her sculpture at the Tate in London while studying abroad in the late 1980s. I was living in Oxford and volunteering at the Ashmolean Museum, where I studied hundreds of Greek and Roman plaster casts in the Ashmolean Cast Gallery. I remember visiting the Tate and being awestruck by one of Nevelson's wall sculptures, thinking it breathed more life than the classical figurative casts. I had never seen an abstract sculpture of that scale with such intricate detail. Nevelson's name and work stayed with me. By Billy Fong Louise Nevelson in the kitchen of her East 30th Street home, circa 1954 Right: Louise Nevelson's hands at work, circa 1964–1975 RICHARD GOODBODY, ARCHIVES OF AMERICAN ART, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION LEWIS BROWN, ARCHIVES OF AMERICAN ART, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION (Continued on page 28) 26

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