Imagine having near daily access to the professional and personal life of one of America’s greatest artists, to witness struggles and successes within their creative process as well as the lighter moments in the company of pets and friends. It would be a fascinating experience, worth recording, and in Louise Nevelson Through the Lens of Diana MacKown, we see the results of decades working with the artist. Diana Mackown was Nevelson’s studio assistant and is an invaluable resource, documenting the methods and thinking of the artist’s work. Looking at these photographs, along with the reopening of the Nevelson Chapel at St. Peter’s Church, is a rare opportunity to observe a unique moment of the artist’s career in New York City.
An exclusive exhibition of photographs by Louise Nevelson’s long-time studio assistant, Diana MacKown, accompanies the re-opening of Nevelson Chapel after nearly a year of construction work to install a sustainable HVAC system regulating temperature and humidity for long-term conservation of the sculptures.
From smart composition with a Polaroid to formal portraiture, MacKown’s photographic eye captures the public and the personal Louise Nevelson. Included among the work are a number of images of Nevelson herself in Nevelson Chapel.
At home, in her studio, traveling abroad, with pets, with friends, with colleagues — wherever and with whomever Nevelson was, so often there too, was Diana. The two met over a poker game and established a friendship that would last until Nevelson’s death.
MacKown’s portraits of Nevelson offer a lasting window into the world of the iconic 20th century abstract expressionist sculptor.
Included in the exhibition are images of Nevelson with Willem de Kooning, with John Cage, and with her longtime representative, Arne Glimcher, founder of the Pace Gallery. Nevelson also appears at her Spring Street studio, on travels to Mexico, and on the streets of New York City — which Nevelson described as a “city of collage” and where she collected the discarded wood that she transformed into distinct sculptures painted monochromatic white or black.
A Yale-trained photographer, Diana MacKown did not put down her camera when she became Nevelson’s studio assistant in 1963, a role she held until Nevelson’s death in 1988.
MacKown’s photographs appear in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Portrait Gallery, London. Her volume Dawns + Dusks, conversations with Louise Nevelson was published by Scribners in 1976. Her 1982 film made with Rawn Fulton, “Louise Nevelson: Geometry + Magic,” was recently remastered and shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art.
Diana MacKown was born in 1936 in Rochester, New York. She attended the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) and trained at the Yale School of Art (New Haven, CT).
This exclusive exhibition is presented by the Nevelson Legacy Council and Midtown Arts Common. All work is displayed courtesy of and with thanks to Diana MacKown.
The exhibit is presented in the Street Level gallery as well as the gallery on Lower Level I. Use the stairwell or elevator to access both levels.
Be certain to visit Nevelson Chapel at the top of the stairs.
Please share your visit on social media.
@SaintPetersNYC and @nevelson_chapel
#LouiseNevelson #NevelsonChapel #NevelsonChapelRenewed
Download the press release HERE.