Louise Nevelson's work can be found internationally in over eighty public museum, university, corporate, and municipal collections including: The Dallas Museum of Art, Texas; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Guggenheim Museum, New York City; Hishhorn Museum and Sculpture Gardem, Washington D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh; Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California; Amon Carter Museum, Texas; Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, Maine; Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington D.C.; Tate Gallery, London, UK; The Jewish Museum, New York City; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City.
Louise Nevelson was born Louise Berliawsky on September 23, 1899, in Kiev, Russia. By 1905, her family had emigrated to the United States and settled in Rockland, Maine. In 1920, she married Charles Nevelson and moved to New York. At this time, she studied visual and performing arts, including dramatics, with Frederick Kiesler. Nevelson enrolled at the Art Students League in 1928 and also studied with Hilla Rebay. During this period, she was introduced to the work of Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. In 1931, while traveling in Europe, she briefly attended Hans Hofmann’s school in Munich. Nevelson returned to New York in 1932 and assisted Diego Rivera on murals he was executing under the WPA Federal Art Project. Shortly thereafter, in the early 1930s, she turned to sculpture. Between 1933 and 1936, Nevelson’s work was included in numerous group exhibitions in New York. In 1943, she began her Farm assemblages, in which pieces of wood and found objects were incorporated. She studied etching with Stanley William Hayter at his Atelier 17 in New York in 1947, and in 1949–50 worked in marble and terra-cotta and executed her totemic Game Figures. Nevelson showed in 1953 and 1955 at the Grand Central Moderns Gallery in New York. In 1957, she made her first reliefs in shadow boxes as well as her first wall. Two years later, Nevelson participated in her first important museum exhibition, Sixteen Americans at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and in 1962 she was included in the Venice Biennale.
Throughout her career, Nevelson held numerous leadership positions within the arts community, including: President of the Artist's Equity New York chapter (1957-9); two-time President of National Artist's Equity (1962, 1963); first Vice-President of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors (1962); National Association of Women Artists member (1962); Sculptor's Guild member (1962); participant in the National Council on the Arts and Government, Washington, DC (1965); and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (1979). The recipient of many awards, Nevelson received honorary degrees from Western College for Women (Oxford, OH; 1966), Smith College (Northampton, MA; 1973), Columbia University (New York, NY; 1977), and Boston University (Boston, MA; 1978). In addition, institutions and organizations recognized Nevelson with prizes including: Grand Prize for work in the Art USA exhibition at the New York Coliseum (1959); the Logan Award for work shown in the 63rd American Exhibition from The Art Institute of Chicago (1960); the MacDowell Colony Medal (1969); the Brandeis University Creative Arts Award in Sculpture (1971); the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture (1971); and the President's Medal of the Municipal Art Society of New York (1979).