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Photo Credit: John Schweikert



20th century
Medium & Support
Paint on wood
Support: 17 1/2 x 14 x 4 in.
Abstract Expressionism
Object Type
Credit Line
Gift of Hans & Patty Schleicher
Accession Number
In Copyright
© 2022 Estate of Louise Nevelson

Black wood crate with abstract wood forms inside.

Nevelson used found wooden objects in her sculptures, collecting items she found around New York City and even asking her family and friends to bring her objects they found. She said she painted the wood in her sculptures black so that she could see the objects’ forms without distraction. 

[Museum Staff] 

Label History

The work of Louise Nevelson (b. Kiev, Ukraine 1899-1988) is iconic. Her sculptures, monochromatic and often monolithic, require observation. This small relief, painted in black, is a wood assemblage built up within its frame. Nevelson’s work nods to Cubism in its composition and geometry. As a three-dimensional object, this piece also incorporates shadow upon its layers, adding to the visual intricacies of the shapes. She often incorporates found objects, whose original function is masked by black paint, and which renders anything familiar as unrecognizable. And so she builds up new forms and shapes to present to her audience, revealing new worlds, small and large.

Exhibition Title: Collection Hall
Label Date:
Written by: Museum Staff

After working in Cubist and Surrealist idioms in the 1930s and 1940s, Nevelson began to create dynamic, muscular, often monumentally scaled abstract sculptures that hybridized and fused industrial and natural forms. Her approach to artmaking and choice of materials—discarded stairway balusters, wooden chair parts, decorative spindles, stencil cutouts, random scraps of wood, old crates (as seen in the above work), and other materials scavenged from the detritus of postwar New York City’s rapidly changing urban landscape— epitomized this transition. Her untitled 1958 work deftly navigates the postwar evolution from the representational, psychologically inflected narratives of Surrealism to the exuberant, gestural, equally psychological approach of Abstract Expressionism. The work presents a puzzle-like, shallow relief assemblage of divergent forms in found wood, roughly framed and unified by a coat of Nevelson’s signature matte black paint. Nevelson claimed that black was “the most aristocratic color of all” because it encompassed all colors in one.

Exhibition Title: Asheville Art Museum: An Introduction to the Collection
Label Date: 2021
Type: Catalogue Entry
Written by: Terrie Sultan

Exhibition List
This object was included in the following exhibitions:


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