Leah Berliawsky Sadie

From Enciclopedia | Banrepcultural
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Other languages:
English • ‎español
Leah Berliawsky Sadie
Datos generales
Nombre Leah Berliawsky Sadie
Fecha de nacimiento 23 de septiembre de 1899
Nacionalidad Rusa
Seudónimo Louise Nevelson
Ocupación Escultora
Bachillerato En 1918 se gradua de la escuela secundaria de Rockland
Formación profesional En 1926 estudia arte dramático con Norina. Matchabelli; En 1929 estudia en la Art Students League con Kenneth Hayes Miller y Kimon. Nicolaides; En 1931 estudia con Hans Hofmann en Munich ; En 1934 estudia escultura con Chaim Gross
País de nacimiento Rusia
Ciudad de nacimiento Kiev
Fecha de fallecimiento 17 de abril de 1888
País de fallecimiento Estados Unidos
Ciudad de fallecimiento Nueva York
Familia Myron Nevelson (Hijo), Isaac Berliawsky (Padre), Mina Sadie (Madre)

Louise Nevelson, born Louise Berliawsky, was a Ukrainian artist living in the United States, known for her monochromatic sculptural and pictorial works. Her three-dimensional style focused on monumental assemblies of pieces to form a single work, comprising materials such as wood, steel, aluminum, Plexiglas, and acrylic, while her two-dimensional work mainly employed the technique of engraving.


Nevelson was born on September 23, 1899, in Kiev, a territory that at the time belonged to the Russian Empire and today is the capital of Ukraine. In 1905, she emigrated to the United States with her family, settling in Rockland, Maine. Due to the little integration seen in the area where she lived as a child and teenager and to the conservative norms of the place, she decided to move to New York to study singing, drama, painting, and drawing. In 1920, she met Charles Nevelson, owner of a Jewish cargo ship, with whom she married and from whom she took her last name. From the union was born Myron Nevelson, the couple’s only son. Her relationship with her husband was fraught, since he forbade her to devote herself to art, which led to their separation in 1931.[1]The artist entrusted her mother with the care of her son and continued her studies. She participated in numerous art syndicates including Artists Equity, the National Association of Women Artists, and American Abstract Artists. After a long artistic career with difficult beginnings and artistic recognition in her later years, she was decorated in 1985 with the National Medal of Arts, the highest distinction for the arts in the United States. She died in New York on April 17, 1988.

Artistic career

In 1929, the artist began her studies in art with Kenneth Hayes Miller, an American painter, engraver, and teacher at the Art Students League in New York. She then traveled to Europe and in 1931 settled in Munich where she studied with the German painter Hans Hofmann. The nineteen thirties were a turning point for her as she made her full debut in art, from study to practice, with her work as a set designer in Vienna and Berlin and her time in Diego Rivera's studio on her return to the United States. She assisted the Mexican muralist, who was preparing various commissions requested by both public and private American institutions. Also during this period, she was in permanent contact with artistic associations such as the Works Progress Administration, a program of the Federal Art Project.

In 1935 she participated in a group show at the Brooklyn Museum in New York. Six years later, in 1941, she presented her first solo show at the Nierendorf Gallery, also in New York.[2]During this period, the artist produced works with wood, terracotta, bronze, and plaster. Throughout her life, the artist presented more than one hundred solo exhibitions. As a way of discovering new concepts in her work and taking on particular styles, she studied engraving with the British artist Stanley William Hayter, founder of “Atelier 17”..

On her numerous trips to Mexico, her knowledge of pre-Hispanic sculpture grew, which allowed her to renew her artistic discourse. Beginning in the nineteen fifties, she gained more recognition for her work and began assembling wood, a style for which she would later be recognized and into which she integrated a great many residual, discarded, or abandoned objects. Among these are chair seats, stair rails, picture frames, musical instruments, crates, boxes and clocks, and other objects.[3]

In 1953 she began her experimentation with the wooden assemblages for which she was recognized. He began by assembling entire walls with boxes, crates, chair seats, stair railings, balustrades, keels, musical instruments, clocks, spheres, cylinders, among others3. All the assembled elements were painted in a single matt black, white or gold color. The large size of his works produced a special atmosphere in the galleries, which is why he is considered today as one of the precursors of the installation.

In 1958 she presented her work Sky Cathedral Moon Garden Plus One, at the Grand Central Moderns Gallery. The work consists of a wall assembled with various objects, black and hefty. In 1959 she was part of the exhibition Sixteen Americans, presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). By the nineteen sixties, Manhattan's Pace Gallery became the artist's main exhibition center, putting on many of her shows. In 1962 she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. By 1967, the Whitney Museum had presented a retrospective with one hundred of her works.

Throughout the nineteen seventies, Louise Nevelson received a number of commissions, including Atmosphere and Environment X for Princeton University in 1969, Bicentennial Dawn in 1976 by the U.S. General Services Administration, and Sky Gate—New York in 1978, commissioned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to be installed at the World Trade Center in New York. The work was destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Characteristics of her work

With her unique work, the artist renewed sculpture in an industrial direction through elaboration. She also made it personal through the meaning her works had for her, based on experiences in her life, such as migration to a new and unknown land and the rejection she received from multiple art galleries during the nineteen thirties and forties that prevented her from showing her work.[4] Throughout her professional career, she collected a large amount of discarded materials such as metal chunks, leftover furniture, functional objects such as boxes, and building fittings such as stairway railings and walls. During the process of construction of the works, Louise Nevelson gave a new meaning to these materials by painting them with a dominant and neutral color such as black, white, or gold, according to her artistic criteria. After this process, she proceeded to join up components in her workshop with the help of her assistants, creating a prototype of collage.

Her style was inspired by Marcel Duchamp and his concepts of readymade, the resignification of materials and theories, as well as in by Abstract Expressionism in the composition of her works and the artistic dynamics. Similarly, the numerous Mayan ruins she visited in the forties and fifties and pre-Hispanic culture drew her interest towards in spirituality and nature.

Besides sculpture, Louise Nevelson also produced a series of engravings, although these are from an early and little-known period, of which not many works are extant. Beginning during her academic studies in the United States and Europe, the artist conceptualized numerous spatial and personal ideas, adapting them to her style and thus creating a dialogue between her as a creator, the materials, and the viewer. Her works in public space are also notable, monumental sculptures as they are, the great majority commissioned by various institutions and leading to an understanding of art in open space.

Featured works

  • 1950: Untitled
  • 1957: Tropical Gardens II
  • 1957-1960: Sky Cathedral – Moon Garden Plus One
  • 1960: Royal Tide IV
  • 1964: Silent Music Hall
    • 1964 - 1977: Mrs. N’s Palace
  • 1969: Atmosphere and Environment X
  • 1975: Transparent Horizon
  • 1976: Bicentennial Dawn
  • 1977: Sky Tree
  • 1978: Sky Gate – New York

Works by Louise Nevelson in the Banco de la República Collections

Works by Louise Nevelson in the Banco de la República Collections
Title Year Location Technique Registration number
Rain Garden Zag II 1977 EXHIBITED

Bogotá, Centro Cultural de Bogotá, Miguel Urrutia Art Museum (MAMU), Art Collection Permanent Exhibition, Classics, Experimentals, and Radicals (Clásicos, experimentales y radicales)

Relief AP5280


  • 1899: Born in Kiev under the Russian empire, today the capital of the modern Ukraine.
  • 1905: Moved with her family to the United States.
  • 1920: Married Charles Nevelson.
  • 1929: Studied art with Kenneth Hayes Miller at the Art Students League in New York.
  • 1931: Traveled to Munich to study with Hans Hofmann.
  • 1935: Group exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.
  • 1941: First solo exhibition at Nierendorf Gallery in New York.
  • 1959: Participated in the exhibition Sixteen Americans, presented at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
  • 1962: Represented the United States at the Venice Biennale.
  • 1969: Received her first commission for a sculptural work in public space from Princeton University, titled Atmosphere and Environment X.
  • 1976: Received another commission for a sculpture from the United States General Services Administration, a work called Bicentennial Dawn.
  • 1978: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey commissioned a sculpture, Sky Gate – New York.
  • 1985: Received the United States National Medal of Arts.
  • 1988: Died in New York.

See also


  1. A story about how Louise Nevelson constructed her sculptures and her past. DailyArt. https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/louise-nevelsons-sculptures/
  2. Louise Nevelson. Guggenheim Museum. https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/louise-nevelson
  3. Sculptor Louise Nevelson. CBS Sunday Morning on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axSNOTLluN8


  • Rapaport, Brooke Kamin. (Ed.). (2007). The sculpture of Louise Nevelson: constructing a legend. Nueva York: Jewish Museum and Yale University Press.
  • Wilson, Laurie. (2016). Louise Nevelson. Light and shadow. London: Thames & Hudson.

Banco de la República Art Collection


1.Research and text: Alejandro Lozano, mediator of Banco de la República museums and collections, for Banrepcultural.

2.Review and editing: Inti Camila Romero Estrada and Diana Marcela Salas Solórzano. Public and Educational Services, Art, and Other Collections Unit (UAOC).