*1899 in Pereiaslav, Ukraine
†1988 in New York City, USA
Louise Nevelson was an American sculptor of Ukrainian descent, best known for her complex monochromatic assemblage sculptures usually made from reclaimed wood. At age six Nevelson immigrated with her father to Rockland, Maine from Ukraine. In 1920, she moved to New York and began to educate herself as an actress, pianist, dancer, singer and painter. She studied under Hans Hofmann at the Hofmann Schule für Moderne Kunst in Munich and the Art Students League in the United States, and also worked as a studio assistant to Diego Rivera. Through Hofmann, she became aware of Cubism, collage techniques, Surrealism, African art, American Indian art and Pre-Columbian art. In the 1940s, while many of her artistic peers – Alexander Calder, David Smith, Theodore Roszak – were welding metal to create their large-scale sculptures, Nevelson began producing Cubist figure studies in wood. In 1958 she was photographed and featured on the cover of Life magazine. Influenced by Duchamp's found-object sculptures, she sought to build abstract environments and impregnate them with a mysterious, spiritual narrative. In 1962 she was selected for the 31st Venice Biennale, and went on to win the Gold Medal Sculpture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1983, and the National Medal of the Arts in 1985. Today, her assemblages are held in public collections including, the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Tate Britain, London; and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.