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Louise Nevelson

  • Early in school, they called me 'the artist.' When teachers wanted things painted, they called upon me, they called upon 'the artist.' I am not saying that I learned my name, animals can learn their names, I am saying that they learned it.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Arnold B. Glimcher, Louise Nevelson ()
  • My husband's family was terribly refined. Within their circle you could know Beethoven, but God forbid if you were Beethoven.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Arnold B. Glimcher, Louise Nevelson ()
  • True strength is delicate.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Arnold B. Glimcher, Louise Nevelson ()
  • You take a painting, you have a white, virginal piece of canvas that is the world of purity, and then you put your imagery on it, and you try to bring it back to the original purity.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Arnold B. Glimcher, Louise Nevelson ()
  • In the end, as you get older and older, your life is your life, and you are alone with it.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Arnold B. Glimcher, Louise Nevelson ()
  • What we call reality is an agreement that people have arrived at to make life more livable.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Newsweek ()
  • Character is the architecture of the being.

  • My theory is that when we come on this earth, many of us are ready-made. Some of us — most of us — have genes that are ready for certain performances. Nature gives you these gifts. There's no denying that Caruso came with a voice, there's no denying that Beethoven came with music in his soul. Picasso was drawing like an angel in the crib. You're born with it.

  • And I believe that the physical is the geography of the being.

  • In the first grade, I already knew the pattern of my life. I didn't know the living of it, but I knew the line ... From the first day in school until the day I graduated, everyone gave me one hundred plus in art. Well, where do you go in life? You go to the place where you got one hundred plus.

  • If you have got a living force and you're not using it, nature kicks you back. The blood boils just like you put it in a pot.

  • I think that in the sexual act, as delightful as it can be, the very physical part of it is, yes, a hammering away. So it has a certain brutality.

  • No matter how individual we humans are, we are a composite of everything we are aware of. We are a mirror of our times.

  • I think most artists create out of despair. ... if labor pain is for physical birth, then there is a psychic pain and spiritual for creation. ... The very nature of creation is not a performing glory on the outside, it's a painful, difficult search within.

  • And I saw darkness for weeks. It never dawned on me that I could come out of it, but you heal. Nature heals you, and you do come out of it. All of a sudden I saw a crack of light ... then all of a sudden I saw another crack of light. Then I saw forms in the light. And I recognized that there was no darkness, that in darkness there'll always be light.

  • I think all great innovations are built on rejections.

  • But when I fell in love with black, it contained all color. It wasn't a negation of color. It was an acceptance. Because black encompasses all colors. Black is the most aristocratic color of all. The only aristocratic color. For me this is the ultimate. You can be quiet and it contains the whole thing. There is no color that will give you the feeling of totality. Of peace. Of greatness. Of quietness. Of excitement. I have seen things that were transformed into black, that took on just greatness.

  • [Good taste] is a nineteenth-century concept. And good taste has never really been defined. The effort of projecting 'good taste' is so studied that it offends me. No, I prefer to negate that. We have to put a period to so-called good taste.

  • I'm a work horse. I like to work. I always did. I think that there is such a thing as energy, creation overflowing. And I always felt that I have this great energy and it was bound to sort of burst at the seams, so that my work automatically took its place with a mind like mine. I've never had a day when I didn't want to work. I've never had a day like that. And I knew that a day I took away from the work did not make me too happy. I just feel that I'm in tune with the right vibrations in the universe when I'm in the process of working. ... In my studio I'm as happy as a cow in her stall.

  • I've been so lonely for long periods of my life that if a rat walked in I would have welcomed it.

  • I believe in my work and the joy of it. You have to be with the work and the work has to be with you. It absorbs you totally and you absorb it totally. Everything must fall by the wayside by comparison.

  • I think people should think a million times before they give birth. The guilts of motherhood were the worst guilts in the world for me. They were really insurmountable. You see, you are depriving another human being of so many things, and the other party also knows it.

  • The freer that women become, the freer will men be. Because when you enslave someone — you are enslaved.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in AFTRA ()
  • I never feel age. ... If you have creative work, you don't have age or time.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • 1980, in Alexandra Robbin, Aging: A New Look ()
  • Another thing about creation is that every day it is like it gave birth, and it's always kind of an innocent and refreshing. So it's always virginal to me, and it's always a surprise. ... Each piece seems to have a life of its own. Every little piece or every big piece that I make becomes a very living thing to me, very living. I could make a million pieces; the next piece gives me a whole new thing. It is a new center. Life is total at that particular time. And that's why it's right. That reaffirms my life.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • 1976, in Dore Ashton, ed., Twentieth-Century Artists on Art ()
  • Some of us come on earth seeing. Some of us come on earth seeing color.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Laurie Lisle, Louise Nevelson: A Passionate Life ()
  • The essence of living is in doing, and in doing, I have made my world and it's a much better world than I ever saw outside.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Doris Grumbach, Extra Innings ()
  • It's a hell of a thing to be born, and if you're born you're at least entitled to your own self.

    • Louise Nevelson,
    • in Deborah G. Felder, The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time ()
  • I never liked the middle ground — the most boring place in the world.

    • Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson, Russian-born U.S. sculptor

(1900 - 1988)

Full name: Louise Berliawsky Nevelson.