Tropical Leaves by Louise Nevelson
As a preeminent sculptor of the twentieth century, Louise Nevelson scavenged objects from the urban environment around her New York studio and constructed assemblages of boxes which eventually became wall-sized installations and environments. She painted these wooden assemblages matte black to more fully integrate the objects within the box environments, and more importantly, to evoke a shadowy, mysterious sense of space.
Tropical Leaves exemplifies the way she explored these ideas within the medium of printmaking. In this work, Nevelson etched a plate with the design, placed a thin sheet of lead on top of the plate, and ran it through a printing press. Bonding the lead to paper, Nevelson created a low relief sculpture within a two-dimensional format. Like her sculptures, the lead shares the same matte black quality, absorbing rather than reflecting light. The composition of asymmetrical and irregularly shaped boxes echoes her assemblages, and incorporates triangular shapes suggestive of the title Tropical Leaves. This long-running motif in her work originated from her travels to Mexico, the Yucatán Peninsula, and Guatemala in 1950. She described her fascination for the jungle environment and ancient Maya sculpture, particularly stelae with hieroglyphic text, as a “world of forms that at once I felt I could identify with…a world of geometry and magic.” – Kiki Gilderhus
Selected Bibliography Johnson, Una E. Louise Nevelson: Prints and Drawings 1953-1966. Brooklyn: The Brooklyn Museum, 1967. Lisle, Laurie. Louise Nevelson A Passionate Life. New York: Summit Books, 1990. Louise Nevelson. Ed. Bruno Corà. Milan: Skira Editore S.p.A., 2013.