Louise Nevelson born 1899 [- 1988]
T00796 An American Tribute to the British People
The great majority of the boxes are inscribed on the side 'NEVELSON 1961'; the small wooden clusters are inscribed at the top 'NEVELSON 1962'; and the long horizontal box, second from the top, is inscribed 'NEVELSON 1960'
Wood painted gold, 35 units, 122 x 171 x 46 (305 x 434 x 117)
Presented by the artist 1965
Exh: Louise Nevelson, Whitney Museum, New York, March-April 1967 (85, repr.); Rose Art Museum, Waltham, May-July 1967 (85, repr.); Louise Nevelson, Sculpturen 1959-1969, Rijksmuseum Kröller-Müller, Otterlo, June-September 1969 (23, repr.)
Repr: Arnold B. Glimcher, Louise Nevelson (London 1972), p.122 in colour (dated 1960-5); Sam Hunter, American Art of the 20th Century (New York 1972), p.357, pl.682 in colour
The artist's dealer Fred Mueller wrote on her behalf (22 March 1966): 'The title of the gold wall she has given the Tate Gallery is "An American Tribute to the British People". This work has never been exhibited or reproduced, as it has always been in Mrs. Nevelson's possession, being a great favorite of hers.
'Mrs. Nevelson does, in fact, feel that this particular work is especially appropriate for your monarchial country. Its cathedral-like aspect, which seems to present the viewer with an altar at which to kneel, perhaps to receive some royal blessing, and its gilded splendor (which needs re-doing with ordinary gold spray paint every two years or so) were considered peculiarly appropriate.' Several of the gold walls have evocative titles with the word 'Royal' in them, which underline the contrast in mood with the black walls and the white ('Dawn') walls.
The six columns with doors used here seem to have been among a group of eight gold columns exhibited in the artist's one-woman show at the Hanover Gallery, London, in November-December 1963 (13, repr.) as 'Distant Music' 1962. At least three of them can be identified with certainty from the catalogue reproduction. However they are inscribed 'NEVELSON 1961', not 1962. The long horizontal box, second from the top, is dated 1960 and the small wooden clusters are dated 1962. Arnold B. Glimcher writes (letter of 19 April 1976) that this work was in an organic state of growth from 1960-4, constantly being recomposed, and should therefore be dated 1960-4.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.555, reproduced p.555