DAWNS AND DUSKS: Taped Conversations with Diana MacKown by Louise Nevelson

DAWNS AND DUSKS: Taped Conversations with Diana MacKown

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Louise Nevelson has one subject: herself. Talking about her childhood discomfiture in Rockland, Maine, her abrupt marriage into New York's Russian-Jewish haute bourgeoisie, her own insistence on being a creator, not an audience, and the 30 years' work without a sale, she is totally, exasperatingly self-absorbed--to the point where these taped ruminations seem to place her among those artists better seen than heard. On art she exfoliates like an unkempt Gertrude Stein (the tone of much of this). Picasso's Guernica touches her because of the color, ""Black, gray, white. And then the way he used form. The horses, and what he did with them. How he reconstructed a world. So if you look at it, you realize that the visual universe changed if you look at that picture."" Her remarks about her own work are hardly more focused--they have none of the precision and clarity of Georgia O'Keefe's, for instance--but little by little one comes to see what those black- and white- and gold-painted wooden structures mean to her; how she arrived at ""environments""; why she took up industrial materials like Cor-ten steel and Plexiglas and moved outdoors. The life of work insinuates itself, the absorption and deliberation: ""a personal empire of recognition."" (She does not eat raisins by the bunch, she confirms, but singly, selectively: ""when I put a raisin in my mouth I know what I'm doing."") It never occurred to her, she tells a questioner, that she would not be great. The many photos of Nevelson, her family and friends, her work (since high school) in various media, her studios and homes, will charm her following; they also serve to confirm the portrait of the artist--Nevelson or another--as ego triumphant.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Scribners