American artist Louise Berliawsky Nevelson (1899-1988), better known as Louise Nevelson, was an iconic figure in the postwar art scene and invented, what came to be known as ‘Installation Art.’ Nevelson was equally recognized for her luxurious lifestyle and flamboyant personality, which was a contrast to the underlying style of her works in wood and monochromes. Starting with smaller designs, Louise graduated to room size works with “Dawn’s Wedding Feast,” which is also known as one of her two masterworks.
Louise’s “Dawn’s Wedding Feast” was created in 1959 for the high-profile exhibition ‘Sixteen Americans’ at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, as a wood assemblage in all-white paint. It was a very prolific installation with four chapels, bride, groom, wedding cake, mirror, chest, pillow and various, stationed & hanging columns (symbolic of guests). It was this enormity, due to which, not enough buyers could be attracted for the complete structure, and Nevelson had to break it down into sixteen stand-alone sculptures. The theme of this assemblage centers on the transitions that accompany nuptial ties. It carries the essence of expectancy, bright prospects, and the promises of a marital life, through its depiction in white, a color traditionally associated with Christian matrimonial ceremony.
The use of white color here also marks ‘dawn,’ the hour of the day when this ‘feast’ is being held, another sign of a new beginning. Some sections believe that this exhibit was an allegory to her personal life, which was bound within two extremes, a failed marriage and an undeterred commitment to art. “Dawn’s Wedding Feast” was entirely made up of the discarded wood pieces of different shapes, carefully crafted to create symmetrical pieces, coated with white spray paint. This assortment is predominantly a ‘Symbolic’ work with ‘Abstract’ individual structures. Two tall columns with disc installations titled ‘Bride and Disk’ and ‘Groom and Disk,’ represent bride and groom, respectively. The large pieces had dominant central presence when compared to the rest of the structure. Of all the four chapels, “Dawn’s Wedding Chapel IV” is noteworthy on the account of its complex form and eye-catching central wheel design with four spikes. ‘Case with Five Balusters,’ a solitary piece of the “Dawn’s Wedding Feast,” is basically, a collection of geometrical pieces, with five wooden balusters, taken from the scrap of some staircase.
On the account of its unorthodox, yet superior execution, “Dawn’s Wedding Feast” earned the much deserved reputation as one of the crowning glory of ‘Modern Installation Art,’ giving high impetus to Nevelson’s artistic career.