Louise Nevelson takes over Venice

Procuratie Vecchie in Venice’s Piazza San Marco features a remarkable exhibition titled Louise Nevelson. Persistence. Presented by Pace Gallery, the stunning show marks the 60th anniversary of Nevelson’s representation of the United States in the American Pavilion at the Biennale Arte in 1962 and coincides with this year’s Biennale.

Born in Pereiaslav, Ukraine near Kiev in 1899, Nevelson immigrated to the United States with her family in 1905, settling in Maine. In the 1930s, she worked as Diego Rivera’s assistant, and she later taught art with the Works Progress Administration. In the early 1950s she traveled to Guatemala and Mexico to visit pre-Columbian artworks—following these trips, she began creating her first wood sculptures.

Featuring Nevelson’s monumental painted sculptures alongside little-known examples of her most significant collages magnifying the artist’s approach to abstraction and assemblage, this exhibition is presented across nine rooms and curated by Julia Bryan-Wilson, professor of modern and contemporary art at the University of California, Berkeley, an expert on Louise Nevelson.

Nevelson’s collages and sculptural assemblages are showcased in dialogue with the artist’s large-scale work, shedding light on the underpinnings of her artistic process—which the Italian art critic Carla Lonzi described as one of “destruction and transfiguration”—as well as her interest in unconventional materials like raw wood and metal, cardboard, sandpaper, and metallic foil.