Operated during Venice Biennale as an official Collateral Event of the exhibition, and curated by Julia Bryan-Wilson, professor of modern and contemporary art at the University of California, Berkeley, the Procuratie Vecchie in Venice’s Piazza San Marco plays home to an expansive and expressive body of work by the American artist Louise Nevelson. Persistence, which marks the 60th anniversary of Nevelson’s representation of the United States in the American Pavilion at the Biennale Arte in 1962, it includes more than 60 works created by Nevelson between the 1950s and the 1980s.
For the first time in the building’s 500 year history, a large part of the Procuratie Vecchie will be made accessible to the public, following a multi-year restoration of the building led by David Chipperfield Architects Milan, which has also served as an advisor for the exhibition, which focuses in particular on Nevelson’s iconic, large-scale black sculptures in painted wood, including highlights from numerous important bodies of work spanning the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
The exhibition will also have examples of her painted white sculpture, including the multi-part columnar installation Dawn’s Presence—Three (1975), as well as works in gold, such as The Golden Pearl (1962). The exhibition highlights the relationship between Nevelson’s work as a sculptor and her lifelong practice of creating wall-based assemblage and collage. Nevelson’s collages and sculptural assemblages are presented 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.
Throughout the show, Nevelson’s sense of the sheer expressive capacity of her materials, and their orchestration in larger systems, seems to both prefigure notions of dynamic systems while rooting them in a language of the handmade. Exploring the relational possibilities of sculpture and space, balanced by personal relations to space and to the world as mere material, Nevelson’s work underscores a space distinctly situated between universal and personal, a space transformed by this relation between the two, tying them together through a vocabulary that spans much of 20th century art.
The show closes September 11th, 2022.
– D. Creahan
Louise Nevelson [Exhibition Site]