185 x 203,2 x 30,5 cm (73 x 80 x 12 in.)
Louise Nevelson was a leading sculptor of the twentieth century, whose works brought the concept of installation art firmly to the foreground of American culture. Wooden boxes open to the front serve as the basic structure, which she assembled into architectural environments. They are filled with found objects of all kinds - chair backs, bedposts, doorknobs, civilization trash that the artist has collected on tireless forays through New York, stored in her house, and laid out in her studio to form compositions. Consolidating her disparate elements into compact, box-like structures, and then painted them in a uniform, monochrome color, usually black, white but also gold. In the new context of the artwork, created in the tension between chance and artistic control, the remnants of cultural society unfold a new poetry of their own. Their sometimes sacred and also enigmatic impression of the interlocking sculptures and wall objects testify to the artist's engagement with the transcendence of object and space.
“I go to the sculpture, and my eye tells me what is right for me. When I compose, I don’t have anything but the material, myself, and an assistant...Sometimes it’s the material that takes over; sometimes it’s me that takes over. I permit them to play, like a seesaw. I use action and counteraction, like in music, all the time. Action and counteraction. It was always a relationship—my speaking to the wood and the wood speaking back to me.”
Nevelson railed against gendered stereotyping: a firm believer that art reflected the individual and not masculine-feminine labels, she even disputed being called a feminist, as it spoke of further reduction to gender: ‘I’m not a feminist. I’m an artist who happens to be a woman’. Nonetheless, her dark and monumental sculptures challenged the notional vision of ‘female art’ and as such Nevelson was fundamental in redefining the possibilities for women in art, and was a key (though indirect) proponent of the Feminist Art Movement in 1970s America. Nevelson began to gain popularity and even critical acclaim during the 1950s. It was this decade, too, when she started to experiment with monumental sculpture. It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, that her work achieved national recognition. In 1962 she became the first American sculptor to be represented by the Sidney Janis Gallery, New York; in this same year she was selected to represent the United States at the XXXI Venice Biennale and she also made her first museum sale – the black wall-sculpture Young Shadows (1959-60) to the Whitney Museum of American Art. By the mid-1970s at the latest Nevelson was established as one of the leading figures of contemporary art in America, with a reputation that extended worldwide. The scale of "Rain Garden Spikes" its consuming black colour and disparate angular elements mark the culmination of Nevelson’s experiments with form and encapsulate the key themes that characterised her output throughout her career.