Louise Nevelson, Dawn’s Wedding Chapel II, 1959. Painted wood, 115 7/8 × 83 1/2 × 10 1/2 in. (294.3 × 212.1 × 26.7 cm) with base. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase with funds from the Howard and Jean Lipman Foundation Inc. 70.68a-m
MAXWELLANDERSON: In this large wood sculpture made of found objects painted white, Louise Nevelson has transformed prosaic materials into an evocative shrine. Using a technique called assemblage—a kind of three dimensional collage—the artist filled these stacked compartments with discarded items she found on the streets—scraps of wood, parts of furniture, ornate architectural moldings, and banister railings. Nevelson has an intuitive approach to making art, perhaps influenced by her early training in modern dance. Here, she has created a rhythmic composition through her use of light and shadow, and juxtapositions of different shapes and textures.
This work was originally part of a larger installation called Dawn’s Wedding Feast, which Nevelson created for an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in 1959. The work consisted of hundreds of stacked boxes and wooden forms all painted white. Prior to this exhibition, her sculptures had almost always been black. Nevelson described her new installation as “a white wedding cake, a wedding mirror . . . a pillow . . . a kind of fulfillment, a transition to a marriage with the world.” After the exhibition closed, the artist dismantled the installation and reshuffled the individual boxes to form new discrete sculptures like this one—creating a miniature world of geometry and magic.