Louise Nevelson: Prints and Multiples 1953-1983
September 16, 2010 - October 23, 2010
32 East 57th Street

Born in 1899 in Kiev, Ukraine, Nevelson and her family made a permanent move to the United States in 1905. From an early age Nevelson knew she wanted to be an artist, specifically a sculptor. Her art education began in 1928 at the Art Students League in New York. During the 1930s while studying with Hans Hoffman in Munich she was able to travel through Europe discovering the art of other cultures. In 1931 Nevelson discovered a source of energy and power from African sculptures at the Musée de l’Homme, Paris. Her interest in non-Western sculpture was satiated through several extended trips to Mexico and South America in the late 1940s. Although Nevelson excelled in translating her many ideas and visions into three-dimensional sculpture, she continuously sought out new means of expression. Prints became another forum for her creative vigor.
Her first forays into printmaking occurred at Atelier 17, New York, with Stanley William Hayter. She visited Hayter in the mid 1940s but did not formally start work until 1953 when over a three year period she composed thirty black and white etchings. Emiliano Sironi printed these etchings under the supervision of Irwin Hollander at the Hollander Graphic Workshop, New York in 1965. 
At Pace Primitive eight of these figurative etchings that reflect Nevelson’s absorption and interpretation of Abstraction, African and Pre-Columbian art, will be juxtaposed with a selection of African and Oceanic art. In the etchings Jungle Figures, The Search and Solid Reflections Nevelson deconstructs form and volume into her own visual manifestations, which preclude her large sculptures.
Nevelson experimented in several different print mediums. A 1963 Ford Foundation grant enabled June Wayne of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles, to extend an invitation to Nevelson. This initial collaboration led to twenty six lithographs, mostly black with dark blue or red, which combined hand-drawn elements with printed lace. Nevelson returned to Tamarind in 1967 to complete sixteen large scale lithographs know as Double Imagery. In these lithographs Nevelson played with landscapes of shadows and reflections using irregular shaped papers and a limited palette of black, red, grey and blue. The irregular shaped components, or “flaps,” are blotted rather than printed images. The flaps were placed face down on the wet lithograph and run through the press, which created a second light impression of the printed image underneath. The immediacy of lithography allowed Nevelson to create freely and intuitively. 
In 1970 Nevelson began her publishing association with Pace Editions, Inc., which would last the rest of her career. Her first project with Pace was a series of six lead intaglio relief prints executed in 1970-1973 at Sergio and Fausta Tosi’s workshop in Milan, Italy. These prints along with the cast paper pulp pieces most resemble her iconic sculptures. To create the lead intaglio prints, Nevelson assembled the wood relief elements into her desired vertical composition, which included ten to sixteen pieces each, and were then bonded to a wood backing. At Tosi thin pieces of lead were applied over the maquettes, embossing them. The lead reliefs were then attached to heavy rag paper. The play of light across the shiny and matte areas of the lead form another dimension within the print validating their titles: Sky Shadow, Tropical Leaves, Night Tree, Sky Garden, Night Sound and The Great Wall.
Building on the use of wood relief elements, Nevelson worked again with wood maquettes and this time, cast paper pulp. Nevelson composed eleven cast paper pulp prints between 1975 and 1982. Once more, she translated her sculptural aesthetic into the print medium. When the wood maquettes were complete a rubber mold was formed from them in which the paper pulp was pressed and left to dry. The use of cast paper imbues a tactile, organic quality to the work. 
Most of the cast paper pieces are all white or all black, eliminating the original frame of reference and giving the viewer insight into Nevelson’s vision. The titles convey the romance and mystery of dawn, night and celestial bodies: Dawn’s Presence, Dawnscape, Morning Haze, Moon Garden and Nightscape. 
Nevelson returned to the mediums of etching and aquatint in three different series: Celebrations, 1979; Tonalities, 1981; and Reflections, 1983. These suites used torn colored papers, lace, doilies, with etching and aquatint to produce abstract, colorful collages. 
Moving from printed matter to multiples, Nevelson conceived ten pieces made of wood and polyester cast resin. The multiples evoke their own microcosms of texture, shadow and reflection. Dark Ellipse, 1974, a totemic, free-standing piece absorbs the viewer leading one to explore its curves and surfaces. These multiples stand on their own as sculptural objects.
Most of the cast paper pieces are all white or all black, eliminating the original frame of reference and giving the viewer insight into Nevelson’s vision. The titles convey the romance and mystery of dawn, night and celestial bodies: Dawn’s Presence, Dawnscape, Morning Haze, Moon Garden and Nightscape. Nevelson returned to the mediums of etching and aquatint in three different series: Celebrations, 1979; Tonalities, 1981; and Reflections, 1983. These suites used torn colored papers, lace, doilies, with etching and aquatint to produce abstract, colorful collages. Moving from printed matter to multiples, Nevelson conceived ten pieces made of wood and polyester cast resin. The multiples evoke their own microcosms of texture, shadow and reflection. Dark Ellipse, 1974, a totemic, free-standing piece absorbs the viewer leading one to explore its curves and surfaces. These multiples stand on their own as sculptural objects. In printmaking Nevelson found a venue for her intuitive power and creativity establishing a new idiom.

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