Louise Nevelson’s legacy in the fields of sculpture and collage-making has long been associated with her ability to transform the traditional environment of the home from a symbol of feminine sensibility, domestication and intimate scale to a monumental expression of creative freedom. In her quest to achieve this, however, Nevelson also pioneered a new, ecological approach to art-making, according to which every element of the home is used for the creation of her work. From the larger, three-dimensional parts of old furniture that the artist acquired in bulk, to smaller and often more perishable items such as cardboard, paper, woodcut rejects and doorknobs, Nevelson’s choice of materials was a clear expression of a ‘waste not’ ideology. Her process began with the homes whose contents she procured, continued with its recycling in the form of sculpture, and ended with the obsessive making of her most valued thinking tools—collages—using an extraordinary range of materials from her own home and studio.
But as the exhibition “OUT OF ORDER” argues through a close examination of her collages, Nevelson’s fundamental mode of art-making was not disorganised as her all-inclusive aesthetic might suggest. She developed distinct groups of works relying on specific materials, strategies and formal questions that preoccupied her. As she herself declared on more than one occasion, ‘The way I think is collage.’ This project therefore sets out to establish new grounds for debate, scholarship and analysis of Nevelson’s work in collage, and in effect also in sculpture, by following the proposition of collage historian Yuval Etgar to divide Nevelson’s collages according to certain key attributes. These rely on material composition and technical approach, and include categories such as ‘containers’, ‘use of spray paint’, ‘torn papers’, ‘offcuts’ and the inclusion of ‘utility objects’, thereby inviting visitors and readers to explore the spectrum of creative potential that Nevelson recovered from the debris of everyday life.
at Gió Marconi, Milan
until July 29, 2022