Louise Nevelson - Sky Cathedral

2897 Words Dec 28th, 2011 12 Pages
Louise Nevelson—
Sky Cathedral Presence

Survey of World Art

By
Vyacheslav Borts

The sculptress Louise Nevelson was a towering figure of American modernism. Born in 1899, she came to prominence in the late ‘50s, gaining renown for monochromatic structures built out of discarded wood. Critic Arthur C. Danto wrote, “There could be no better word for how Nevelson composed her work than bricolage—a French term that means making do with what is at hand.” (Danto 2007) Her pieces evolved and expanded in size across the latter 20th century, moving from smaller pieces to wall-sized ones, and the plays of volume therein, between light and mass, generated comparisons to numerous different movements. The following paper will examine these
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The poignancy of this girl’s untimely death and the instant of life the Grave Stele captures are both magnified by the weight and constancy of the marble. By contrast, Nevelson achieves something like suppleness in Sky Cathedral by her use of multiple layers and multiple “new” spaces that emerge from different vantage points. From the Attic Greek to the Augustan age brings one to the Imperial Procession, located on the North frieze of the Ara Pacis Augustae (Fig. 4). The first two sculptures put into conversation with Sky Cathedral were mortuary, but the Imperial Procession is celebratory. The first two are both smaller than four feet, but the Procession is life-sized, so its visual force is thus magnified. Finally, the individuals therein are not idealized types, in contrast to earlier Greek modes of statuary—they naturalistic depictions of many actual people in the line of the Caesars. The Ara Pacis took four years to build, due to its desired scale and quality, and that scale points to a salient evolution from the Greeks to the Romans. Riegl claimed this vector went from what he call[ed] the haptic objectivism of the Greeks—the delineation of the clarity of the object through an appeal to and a stimulation of the tactile associations of the viewer—to the optical objectivism of Roman art, in which the need to set the figure up in space as radically

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