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Currently shown
Louise Nevelson

Sky Cathedral

Artist

Louise Nevelson
Kiev 1899 – New York 1988

Title

Sky Cathedral

Date

1966-1973

Materials

Painted wood

Dimensions

241.4 x 199.8 x 40.7 cm

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1977.42

Collection

Western Art

This sculpture speaks to the power of transformation: cast-off fragments of fabricated wooden objects were first collected, then selected, spray-painted black, assembled, nailed together and stacked. The resulting layered and seemingly impenetrable surfaces cast shadows across the field of its broad expanse.


Although it has ample height and width—perhaps owing to the artist’s appreciation of the ancient pyramids in Oaxaca, Mexico City and the Yucatán, as well as the Mayan ruins and stelae in Guatemala—its depth is relatively shallow. The viewer’s experience of the frontal relief surface is closer to that of being before a painting than a sculpture; time is integral to penetrating the enveloping visual environment, as one is lured to probe the dark, secret apertures of the monochrome surface, thus metaphysically entering the space. The initial functions of the disparate objects have been negated through their integration in the engulfing work—their new context—and their blanketing of black.

© Estate of Louise Nevelson / SOCAN (2020)

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