Louise Nevelson
American, b. Russia, 1899–1988


c. 1953–55


American sculptor Louise Nevelson is perhaps best known for the large, monochromatic wood assemblages—invariably painted all black at first, then later white or gold as well—that she began to produce in the late 1950s. Throughout her career, she also occasionally turned to printmaking, a practice she first experienced at Atelier 17. Actually, her initial efforts at the studio, under the guidance of S. W. Hayter in 1947, were unsuccessful. She found Hayter’s enthusiasm for engraving too overwhelming, and she failed to finish a single plate. Several years later, after Hayter had returned to France (he left New York in 1950 in order to re-establish Atelier 17 in Paris), she was invited to try her hand once again by one of the workshop’s interim directors, Peter Grippe. The post-Hayter environment was more to Nevelson’s liking, as is evident from Alan Gussow’s recollection of her presence:

She revelled in the inks and papers. She threw down textures of fabrics, worked with enormous physicality, literally throwing herself into the work. The most lasting impression was that she got dirty. I mean very dirty. It was as if she enjoyed wallowing in the blackness.

Between 1953 and 1955, Nevelson completed a total of thirty intaglios at Atelier 17, but at the time, they were printed, if at all, in quite small numbers. A few proofs appeared at exhibitions in 1954 and 1955; however, it wasn’t until 1965 that a selection of the plates, including, we surmise, the plate for the untitled example included here, were pulled in editions of any substance.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Gift of G. W. Einstein Company, Inc.




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Soft-ground etching; plate: 23-3/4 x 17-5/8 in. (60.3 x 44.7 cm), sheet: 29-7/8 x 22 in. (75.9 x 55.9 cm)