The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend (Jewish Museum)

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ISBN-13: 978-0300160253
ISBN-10: 0300160259
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

American sculptor and fine artist Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) played an integral role in 20th century art; this, the "most extensive study of Nevelson...in over twenty years," combines large, lush images of Nevelson's work with essays on her art and personal life. Many of the essays mention Nevelson's strong sense of self and the ways-both overt and implicit-that that sense presents itself in her artwork. Observational gems stud these essays, like editor and curator Rapaport's insight into Nevelson's work with foraged wood, "a material that she could command viscerally because of childhood associations with her father's work as a lumberman." Arthur C. Danto's essay, in which he shows how Nevelson struggled with 1960s art criticism, provides a picture of the sculptor both as a famous artist and as a vulnerable human being. For Nevelson newcomers, the best place to start is in the back, with Gabriel de Guzman's succinct but unhurried "Chronology of Louise Nevelson's Life," a year-by-year summary adorned with well-chosen personal photos. Comprehensive and evenly balanced between text and image, this is the volume Nevelson devotees have been waiting for. 140 color illustrations.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Louise Nevelson and her profoundly evocative black-wood sculptures were upfront and center in the 1970s and 1980s. Commanding in her dramatic scarves and robes, mink coats, and extravagant false eyelashes, the artist herself was a work of living sculpture. A pioneer in installation art, Nevelson transformed the humblest of materials, wood scraps, into intricate constructions with the complexity of cellular architecture. So powerful were Nevelson's finely detailed black, white, and gold room-filling wood sculptures, she was commissioned to create large outdoor works and built remarkably airy steel structures. But after her death in 1988, Nevelson was forgotten. Now, finally, she is reclaimed as the visionary she was in this suitably dazzling overview in which Rapaport and her superb contributors, including Arthur C. Danto, match measured biography with judicious critical commentary and superb photographs. Given to oracular and contradictory pronouncements, Nevelson herself remains a riddle. But her daring and transfiguring work, which finds beauty and value in the broken and the cast-off, speaks a universal language. The world is a richer place with Nevelson back in view. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Jewish Museum
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300160259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300160253
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 9.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #484,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By wiredweird HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Nevelson's work, as I had seen it in books and other photos, never really impressed me. Then I saw a show of her work, for which this book is catalog - what a difference.

Size matters - I knew that intellectually, but standing in front of these imposing works creates a subjective experience that no photo can capture. Walking around them changes perspective, too, giving a sense like one of those Zen gardens where no point of view presents all of the work's features. Then, at least in the "black" works, there's an odd paradox. If the works had been perfectly, 100% black and non-reflective, then there would have been nothing to see. Only the fact that they're not truly black exposes their mystery.

The static museum display, even more than the book's photos, left me knowing that I had missed at least two aspects of these majestic works. First, their depth and structure only half-defines the shadows deep inside these works. The other half of the shadow's definition comes from the light - a constant in the museum gallery, freezing the shadows like insects in amber, whereas natural lighting would change throughout the day and let the shifting shadows come to life. Second, some of the installations seemed incomplete. Oh, the pieces of Dawn's Wedding Chapel were all there and presented well, but I felt that there must have been some original placement of the pieces that would define the interior of the chapel - the pieces' placement in the display that I saw lacked the consistent logic that I expected of Nevelson.

More than just a catalog of the Nevelson show, this book provides insight into her origins, life, and career.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By B. Evans on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The review from "Publishers Weekly" is not just hype but rather an excellent summation of this gem. Though another reviewer wished for more close-ups of Nevelson's sculptures, I was pleased with their number and really don't think more would have added much. I was also pleasantly surprised to find good coverage of Nevelson's etchings and metal sculptures. And it is always an added bonus when the text is well-written and insightful. All in all, THE SCULPTURE OF LOUISE NEVELSON: CONSTRUCTING A LEGEND is a must-have book for those interested in both the person and her oevre. --B. Evans, 7/19/07
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Artist on July 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Just when I was interested in learning more about Louise Nevelson this very fine book appears in publication. The quality photographs show all facets of her career and the writings reflect in-depth scholarship. Some more detail views of the sculptures would have been nice also, like those on the front and back cover. This fresh and thorough book is the kind that gives great artists the continuing attention they deserve. Like her contemporary Georgia O'Keeffe, Nevelson was a truly unique American woman artist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Theseus on July 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This review relates to the Yale University Press hardcover.

An excellent production: cloth over hardback boards in dustjacket with a sewn binding. Large format book, 238 pp on heavy paper, almost 4 pounds, color and some b&w illustrations throughout.

Prose: "Louise Nevelson: A Story in Sculpture," "Louise Nevelson's Self-Fashioning: The Author of Her Own Life," "Black, White, Gold: Monochrome and Meaning in the Art of Louise Nevelson, "Three Artists Reflect on Louise Nevelson: Chakaia Booker, Mark di Suvero, and Ursula von Rydingsvard," and "Louise Nevelson's Public Art."

15 page chronology of her life, 5 page Bibliography, Notes, Index.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. Nancy S. Cole on January 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A wonderful collection. Full, beautifully presented, with interesting narrative incorporating Nevelson's personal history with that of her creations. Prints - some color as well as black and white - are lusciously entwined with the essays.
A MUST HAVE volume for all art lovers.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daingerfield Ashton Jr. on January 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
An excellent book on an extrordinary artist. There are not many books available on Louise Nevelson so this one is the most important. It has extensive examples of her work over her whole career. It is beautifully printed and finely bound.
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Format: Hardcover
This review relates to the Yale University Press hardcover.

An excellent production: cloth over hardback boards in dustjacket with a sewn binding. Large format book, 238 pp on heavy paper, almost 4 pounds, color and some b&w illustrations throughout.

Prose: "Louise Nevelson: A Story in Sculpture," "Louise Nevelson's Self-Fashioning: The Author of Her Own Life," "Black, White, Gold: Monochrome and Meaning in the Art of Louise Nevelson, "Three Artists Reflect on Louise Nevelson: Chakaia Booker, Mark di Suvero, and Ursula von Rydingsvard," and "Louise Nevelson's Public Art."

15 page chronology of her life, 5 page Bibliography, Notes, Index.
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