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  • "It is early morning when you arise between night and dawn. When you've slept and the city has slept, you get a psychic vision of an awakening. White invites more activity. The world is a little bit asleep and you are basically more alive to what's coming through the day."
    —Louise Nevelson

    While Louise Nevelson is perhaps most known for her iconic, black-painted wooden sculptures, the artist often delved into a melancholic white palette throughout her career in the highly celebrated Dawn series.  First conceived in 1959, after curator Dorothy Miller invited Nevelson to participate in an exhibition of 16 American artists at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, alongside Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Rauschenberg, among others, Nevelson’s Dawn series embraced the artist’s intense feeling of flattery and gratitude from her being honored by such a career-changing invitation—while also being keenly conscious of the fact that she was the only women artist among 15 men. Taking as its title Dawn’s Wedding, Nevelson’s installation was the largest of the group, and imbued with the drama and magnitude of a wedding, presented the artist’s sculptural installation in matrimonial whit. A stark contrast to her signature black palette, the Dawn series boldly equated the exhibition with the nuptials that she was known to strongly resist throughout her life.

     

    In 1976, Nevelson began working on a new group of works titled Dawn’s Landscape, with the present lot serving as the very first example in the expansive, renowned series. Unlike the first Dawn’s Wedding works, which took the form of chapels and inspired in its viewers experiences of interiority, meditation, and worship. Dawn’s Landscape embraced one of Nevelson’s most central muses: the ever-changing and expanding landscape and architecture of the city of New York.  In Dawn’s Landscape I, Nevelson’s triptych divides a scene up among three panels—as if the view is being framed by a window.  Rather than matrimonial, here Nevelson’s use of white conjures the first light of day: a moment when the city is perhaps most at peace and repose, and one imagines the assembled wooden shapes taking on the forms of apartment buildings, bridges, storefronts and water towers. As Nevelson herself poetically observed, "it is early morning when you arise between night and dawn. When you've slept and the city has slept, you get a psychic vision of an awakening. White invites more activity. The world is a little bit asleep and you are basically more alive to what's going through the day." Intricate in its complex, highly active composition, Dawn’s Landscape I uniquely employs this sense of light in a scene that is calmy meditative, heralding a new day.

    • Provenance

      The Pace Gallery, New York
      Private Collection

117

Dawn's Landscape I

painted wood
48 x 64 3/4 x 4 3/4 in. (121.9 x 164.5 x 12.1 cm)
Executed in 1975.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for $277,200

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session, New York
+1 212 940 1261
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York Auction 18 November 2021