Louise Nevelson emerged as an artist in the early 1940s, against criticism that she was neglecting the roles of wife and mother and biased skepticism about a female sculptor’s physical and intellectual strength. Nevelson’s totemic wood construction evokes the psychological tension between interior and exterior. As suggested by the sculpture’s title, the undulating frontal slab represents the controlled, outer persona, while the spiky column behind intimates a hidden, agitated, and chaotic self. First Personage features found, splintered, rough, and broken pieces of wood and is one of the first examples that the artist composed in what would become her iconic form.
a: 94 × 37 1/16 × 11 1/4 in. (238.8 × 94.1 × 28.6 cm)
b: 73 11/16 × 24 3/16 × 7 1/4 in. (187.2 × 61.4 × 18.4 cm) (show scale)
"NEVELSON" carved into the wood on the base of component b
This item is not on view
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Berliawsky
© artist or artist's estate
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Louise Nevelson (American, born Russia, 1899-1988). First Personage, 1956. Painted wood, a: 94 × 37 1/16 × 11 1/4 in. (238.8 × 94.1 × 28.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Nathan Berliawsky, 57.23a-b. © artist or artist's estate (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 57.23a-b_PS11.jpg)
overall, 57.23a-b_PS11.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2022
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