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Louise Nevelson papers, circa 1903-1979

view Louise Nevelson papers, circa 1903-1979 digital asset number 1
Nevelson, Louise, 1899-1988
Place of publication, production, or execution:
United States
Physical Description:
16.8 linear ft.
The Louise Nevelson papers are arranged into nine series: Series 1: Biographical Material, 1918-1975 (Boxes 1, 17, OV 21; 0.8 linear feet) Series 2: Correspondence, 1931-1979 (Boxes 1-2; 1.5 linear feet) Series 3: Subject Files, 1955-1971, 1977-1978 (Box 3; 0.7 linear feet) Series 4: Business Records, 1946-1954, 1958-1962 (Boxes 3-5; 1.8 linear feet) Series 5: Writings, 1936-1970s (Box 5; 0.1 linear feet) Series 6: Scrapbooks, 1935-1970 (Boxes 5, 18-19, OV 22-27; 1.3 linear feet) Series 7: Printed Material, 1916, 1930s-1979 (Boxes 6-13, 19, OV 28; 8 linear feet) Series 8: Art Work, 1905-1929 (Boxes 13, 20; 0.3 linear feet) Series 9: Photographs, circa 1903-1979 (Boxes 14-15, 20, OV 29; 2.3 linear feet)
Access Note / Rights:
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.
The papers of Louise Nevelson measure approximately 16.8 linear feet and date from circa 1903 to 1979. The collection documents aspects of the life and work of the sculptor, focusing especially on her later career. Papers include correspondence, personal business records, writings, scrapbooks, early art work, photographs, interviews, awards and honorary degrees, books, and an extensive amount of printed material.
Interviews, awards, and honorary degrees comprise a series of biographical material, along with scattered personal papers such as a graduation program, wedding announcement, teaching certificate, invitations, miscellaneous notes, and material relating to Nevelson's son, Mike. Correspondence consists of letters and enclosures from a wide range of professional contacts, including museums and art centers, universities, art associations, women's and charitable organizations, artists, and philanthropists, among others, concerning the exhibition, sale, and donation of Nevelson's art work, and her various arts-related activities, as well as some letters from friends and family, most extensively from her son, Mike. Correspondence can also be found amongst the subject files, which also include clippings, notes, printed and other material organized according to subject and relating to certain exhibitions, and various artistic and professional activities. Whether this organization originates with Nevelson, one of her assistants, or Archives staff is unknown.
Found amongst Nevelson's business records are consignment receipts, statements, correspondence, inventories, disposition cards, notebooks, and lists, stemming from her business dealings with the Martha Jackson Gallery and related matters, usually carried out by her assistant at the time. Business records relate in particular to the large and complex project of inventorying Nevelson's art work undertaken sometime in the early-1960s. Nevelson's writings consist mostly of poems and poem fragments, as well as a short-lived dream journal and scattered writings on art, and reflect some of her ideas about art in general and her work in particular. Also found are a large number of scrapbooks and an extensive amount of printed material, which likely stem in large part from Nevelson's concern to document and keep a record of her accomplishments. Scrapbooks contain clippings, exhibition announcements and catalogs, and other material documenting Nevelson's early career from roughly the mid-1930s to the mid-1950s. Also included are loose items comprising a scrapbook of sorts on Mike Nevelson and various scrapbooks compiled by others as mementos of particular events. Printed material includes an extensive amount of clippings and publications, exhibition catalogs and announcements, and a variety of other printed material relating or referring to Nevelson or merely featuring her name in print. Also included are several books, some of which are about or feature segments on Nevelson. This material documents both her critical and commercial success, and her role as personality and minor celebrity in the mass media later in her career, especially during the 1960s and 1970s.
Art work consists of early drawings and watercolors made by Nevelson as a child and adolescent and while studying art in high school and New York, which document her artistic tendencies as youth and her early development as an artist and which provide an interesting contrast to her later work in sculpture. Photographs include ones of the Berliawsky family and Nevelson as a child, adolescent, and young woman in the 1920s and 1930s before she became known as an artist; ones of Nevelson from the mid-1950s to the late-1970s, once she had become known, and began to be honored, as an artist; and ones of Nevelson's art work, as well as of various exibitions and installations of her work. Also included are a number of slides of the artist and her art work, including photographs taken by Dorothy Dehner in the mid-1950s at Louise Nevelson's house on Thirtieth Street.
Louise Nevelson papers, circa 1903-1979. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Additional Forms:
The bulk of this collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.. Only the covers and title pages of widely available exhibition catalogs have been scanned. Additional items typically not scanned include photographs of artwork, slides, clippings, publications, and other printed material.
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Related Materials:
Other resources relating to Louise Nevelson in the Archives include oral history interviews with Nevelson conducted by Dorothy Seckler, June 1964-January 14, 1964, and Arnold Glimcher, January 30, 1972.
Other material relating to Louise Nevelson, which was collected by her brother Nathan Berliawsky and her son Mike Nevelson, can be found at the Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Me.
Biography Note:
Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) was a sculptor from New York, N.Y. She was born in Kiev, Russia.
Donated by Louise Nevelson, 1966-1979.
Digitization Note:
The papers of Louise Nevelson in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2006. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 8,058 images.
Location Note:
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, 750 9th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20001
Works of art
Women sculptors
Sculpture, Modern
Record number:
Art Movements and Schools
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
Additional Online Media:

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