Louise Nevelson architectural sculpture restored at Boca Raton museum
BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Boca Raton Museum of Art has announced the completion of the restoration of a major sculpture by Louise Nevelson, a leading American sculptor of the 20th century and an innovator in site-specific art installations. The restoration was funded by a grant from Bank of America’s Art Conservation Project, a global program providing grants to nonprofit cultural institutions to conserve historically or culturally significant works of art, including works that have been designated as national treasures.
The work, Shadow Chord, created in 1969, exhibits stacked boxes completely covered by Nevelson’s signature flat black paint, giving this installation the imposing presence of a cityscape that alters the viewer’s perception of light and space. Since acquiring the piece in 2001, the museum has followed professional conservation standards and taken measures to minimize the deterioration of the artwork. However, the work was in need of repairing the damage to the surface due to natural aging and handling after more than five decades since its creation.
“The Boca Raton Museum of Art is honored to receive this prestigious grant from the Bank of America Conservation Project,” said the museum’s Executive Director, Irvin Lippman. “Nevelson’s sculpture commands a singular position in our galleries for our museum-goers to enjoy, and we are grateful for this support for its crucial restoration. Painted in her signature matte black paint, featuring abstract compositions composed of scavenged bits of discarded wood and boxes, they transform into striking sculptural walls built to an architectural scale, an engulfing, sensuous environment full of shadows and mystery ― this artwork continues to be a favorite for our visitors.”
Nevelson (1899-1988) immigrated from Ukraine with her family to the United States in 1905, settling in Rockland, Maine. In 1920, she married Charles Nevelson, a wealthy ship owner, and enrolled at the Art Students League in New York to study painting, voice and dance. She held her first solo exhibition in New York in 1941. During the next several decades, she became a pioneer in large-scale installations, an uncommon achievement for women of her generation. Shadow Chord was created at the height of Nevelson’s artistic career and embodies the visual language of her work with its complex wood assemblages and monochromatic color, representing her relentless dedication to her art.
Other pieces by Nevelson that employ a similar technique are part of collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., the Tate in London, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, attesting to the importance of her work. The freshly restored Shadow Chord is currently on view on the second floor at the Boca Raton Museum of Art, 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, FL 33432.
Of the 13 museums in the U.S. that were selected this year for Bank of America Conservation Project grants, the Boca Raton Museum of Art is the only South Florida museum that was chosen. In 2023, Bank of America selected 23 cultural preservation projects globally, including artwork restoration projects across the U.S. and abroad in China, France, Lebanon, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden and the U.K. This year’s grant recipients include: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC; the Paris Museum of Modern Art; the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; the National Gallery in London; the Hong Kong Palace Museum; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and the San Diego Museum of Art.