Who was Louise Nevelson, Assemblage Sculptor?

Photo of Artist Louise Nevelson, photographed by Lynn Gilbert in 1976.

Louise Nevelson was an assemblage artist who lived from 1899 to 1988. Assemblage is a type of sculpture where various objects are combined together to make a sculpture. These objects are sometimes called “found objects,” because in fact, sometimes artists discover something, in the trash, the alley, or lying around and they use it in their art. In truth, many artists begin to specialize in a certain type of object and see it out and buy it.

Louise Nevelson worked primarily in wood, including stair balusters (the wooden part that holds up the hand rail) and crates. She also use saws and other wood working equipment to create pieces of wood into the sizes and shapes that she needed. Something interesting about her larger, wall sized art installations, is that they are modular. Even though they look like a single piece, they can be taken apart in order to be shipped.

Nevelson tended to paint all of the pieces in her assemblages a single color, often black or white.

Below is a  link to an art project inspired by the artwork of Louise Nevelson. In brief, the instructions have you collect some items, paint them all white, and attach them to a base.

To make the project even more like Nevelson’s work, you could make your project all in wood, and use a cigar box or a small wooden box for your project.  When glueing wood to wood, it’s best to use wood glue.  Apply the glue and wipe away any excess that leaks out.

Learn more about Louise Nevelson at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) website:
https://nmwa.org/art/artists/louise-nevelson

One thing it says in the artist profile at the NMWA site is that her dad owned a lumber yard and she often played with the scraps as a child. I didn’t know that!

Link to Instructions/Lesson Plan for an Assemblage Art Project that relates to Louise Nevelson:
https://www.dickblick.com/lesson-plans/assemblage-art

Safety Notes to Parents: This lesson plan includes the use of spray paint, which is not safe for kids to use. These lesson plans are written for teachers, who may have access to a vent hood for added ventilation. Gesso is the primer that’s used to prepare all the surfaces for paint, particularly any plastic items, since plastic generally does not accept paint. Once all the items are glued in place and the gesso has been applied and has dried, your child can paint their sculpture with any kid-safe, water clean up paint such as a craft acrylic paint.