Suzanne Brøgger on Louise Nevelson



“If I want a castle in the sky, I will bloody well build it,” American sculptor Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) said to Danish writer Suzanne Brøgger when the two met in 1977. Watch the acclaimed writer share her admiration of one of the most highly esteemed American sculptors of the 20th century.

“She looked like someone from a fairytale with a happy ending.” Brøgger talks about how Nevelson’s way of viewing the world was architectonic, and that she herself, with her impressive height, long fake eyelashes and Russian scarf, was somewhat of a sculpture. “She affirmed all the things in me that have made me the writer I am – being uncompromising, and living without a response from the surrounding world …,” Brøgger says of how the two had an instant connection, and how Nevelson started crying – “a crying skyscraper” – shortly into their first meeting in New York. This, Brøgger believes, was because she acknowledged Nevelson’s struggle to be accepted. It wasn’t until the French sculptor and poet Jean Arp (1887-1966) wrote a poem about Nevelson’s sculptures, that she had a breakthrough and was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1958: “Until then, she had lived on a can of sardines and a handful of raisins.” Nevelson had fought for several years, collecting wood from the streets during WW2, and developed a technique as a cubist to create sculptures of strange, black “furniture” in a time when everything was to be white, glass and transparent. Brøgger considers Nevelson’s work feminine and finds that her way of continually innovating and “moving on” – from relationships and things alike – was quite groundbreaking for that time. In connection to this, she adds that feminism has a lot to thank Nevelson for, though she didn’t consider herself a feminist: “Because she has stretched the idea of the female.”

Suzanne Brøgger (b. 1944) is a Danish writer. Her first novel ‘Deliver Us from Love’ (Fri os fra Kærligheden, 1973) marked her outs as a provocative autobiographical author and has been translated into numerous languages. Other books include ‘Creme Fraiche’ (1978), ‘Tone’ (1981), ‘Yes’ (Ja, 1984), ‘Transparence’ (1993), ‘Linda Evangelista Olsen’ (2001), ‘The Jade Cat: A Family Saga’ (Jadekatten, 1997), and Koral (2017). Brøgger is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including De Gyldne Laurbær (The Golden Laurel) (1982). She received the lifelong artists’ grant from the Danish Arts Foundation in 1985.

Louise Nevelson (b. 1899-1988) was a Ukrainian-born American sculptor particularly known for her monumental, monochromatic, wooden wall pieces and outdoor sculptures. Major museums began purchasing Nevelson’s wall sculptures in the late 1950s, and she was included in the landmark ‘Sixteen Americans’ exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1959. During the 1970s and 1980s, Nevelson expanded the variety of materials used in her sculptures, incorporating objects made of aluminium, Plexiglas, and Lucite. It was not until she was in her 60s that Nevelson won recognition as one of the foremost American sculptors of the 20th century. In 1962 she was showcased at the 31st Venice Biennale, and in 1973 the Walker Art Center curated a major exhibition of her work, which travelled for two years. Her work can be found in collections and museums worldwide.

Suzanne Brøgger was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at her apartment in Copenhagen in March 2020 in connection with the exhibition ‘Louise Nevelson – Sculptor of Shadows’ at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg in Aalborg, Denmark.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Edited by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2020
Supported by Nordea-fonden

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