Atmosphere and Environment XII (1970)

by Louise Nevelson (1899 - 1988)

Photo Caption: Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art
  • Title

    Atmosphere and Environment XII

  • Artist

    Louise Nevelson (1899 - 1988)

  • Year

    1970; purchased 1971; installed 1973

  • Location

    Philadelphia Museum of Art, West Entrance

  • Medium

    Cor-Ten steel, on granite base

  • Dimensions

    Height 18’3″; width 10′; depth 5′ (base height 2’5″)

  • Themes

    Women and Public Art

Purchased by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art)

Owned by the Association for Public Art

At A Glance

  • Louise Nevelson is one of the most influential artists of the decades following World War II

  • She is known for her wall-like sculptures painted in one color and incorporating a myriad of abstract forms

  • Atmosphere and Environment XII is made of 18,000 pounds of Cor-Ten steel

  • Another example of Nevelson’s work in Philadelphia is Bicentennial Dawn

Atmosphere and Environment XII is a product of the mature style of Louise Nevelson, one of the most influential artists of the decades following World War II. In the late 1950s, Nevelson conceived of wooden collage “environments,” wall-like sculptures painted entirely in one color and incorporating a myriad of abstract forms. Her interest in theater influenced both her concept of sculpture-as-environment and her use of vertical structures resembling stage sets.

Atmosphere and Environment XII
Photo Alec Rogers © 2014 for the Association for Public Art

 

Within the cubes are additional geometrical shapes, and the entire openwork composition seems to echo the landscape of a modern city.

Made of 18,000 pounds of Cor-Ten steel, which gradually weathers to form its own patina, the sculpture consists of six columns of open rectangular cubes bolted together. Within the cubes are additional geometrical shapes, and the entire openwork composition seems to echo the landscape of a modern city. After exhibitions in France and New York, the sculpture was purchased by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) in 1971 and installed at its present site in 1973. Other sculptures in the Atmosphere and Environment series are located at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Princeton University, Yale University Art Gallery, and Scottsdale, AZ. Another example of Nevelson’s work in Philadelphia is Bicentennial Dawn (1976) at the James A. Byrne Federal Courthouse (interior).

Atmosphere and Environment XII underwent comprehensive conservation treatment (completed in 2007) by the Conservation Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in cooperation with the Association for Public Art, with support from the federal Save America’s Treasures program, the Getty Foundation, and the Locks Foundation.

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

 

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This artwork is part of the Around the Philadelphia Museum of Art tour

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