|The Golden Pearl, 1962
Courtesy of Fondazione Marconi, Milano
© Louise Nevelson by SIAE 2013
Over the past few years the Fondazione Roma Museo has become one of my favourite galleries in the city, with each show thoughtfully curated and somewhat theatrically designed with props and exhibition spaces designed to aid the viewer in understanding an artist's work. By contrast, the Nevelson show was presented more simply, but this worked beautifully given the complexity of her art; each assemblage was hung at just the right height and with absolutely perfect lighting, accentuating every shadow, and transforming her painted monochromatic wooden assemblages into multi-panelled polyptych altarpieces. Whilst the influence of Cubism and Dadaism, and even Abstract Expressionism in the scale of her later works, and comparisons with artists such as Duchamp, Picasso and Schwitters, who recycled everyday objects into their art, easily came to mind, when confronted with Nevelson's work face to face, one quickly appreciated the uniqueness of Nevelson's own visual language, and the sheer scale and drama she brought to cast-off wood scraps, when sprayed with black, white, and occasionally, gold paint.
|Homage to the Universe, 1968
Courtesy of Fondazione Marconi, Milano © Louise Nevelson by SIAE 2013
Robert Mapplethorpe captured her larger than life personality in a wonderful late portrait photograph - an elderly woman, eyelids smudged with mascara from her trademark false eyelashes, yet utterly formidable, she gazed out at us in one of the smallest rooms at the end of the exhibition. A darkened room, with the air of a sacristy containing ancient art treasures, three gold assemblages sat side by side - The Golden Gate (1961-70), Royal Winds (1960), and the exquisite The Golden Pearl (24 elements) (1962). It was a fitting end to a marvellous exhibition.
Louise Nevelson was organized by the Fondazione Roma-Arte-Musei with Arthemisia Group and supported by the American Embassy in association with the Nevelson Foundation of Philadelphia and the Fondazione Marconi of Milan, and ran from 16 April – 21 July 2013 at the Fondazione Roma Museo, Palazzo Sciarra, Rome.
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