Night Sail

Historical Background

1985, Louise Nevelson. 30'H x 20'W x 9'D. 333 S. Grand Ave
"Night Sail", squeezed between the two office towers designed by Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill at what is now known as the Wells Fargo Center, is the only major work of outdoor sculpture in Los Angeles by Louise Nevelson.1

Her work contains a collage of elements, including nautical forms, assembled together on a common frame and united by a black matta paint that Nevelson described as an "aristocratic" color. Weighing 33 tons, the aluminum and steel work was executed on a commission of more than $100,000 given in 1983 by Maguire Thomas Partners and the Crocker National Bank, the joint developers of the office complex.2

Nevelson selected the site for her work because it links the sculpture to the two office towers. According to Nevelson, the title alludes to the expansiveness of the sea, which reminded her of the open vistas she saw during a visit to Bunker Hill.3 Since "Night Sail" was installed, the open spaces have been enclosed by numerous office towers constructed during the 1980s. In addition, the growth of a screen of trees has increasingly hidden "Night Sail" from the street. Virtually unnoticed now from the sidewalk, the work can best be seen from the private offices that surround the area.

Nevelson first prepared a three foot maquette of "Night Sail" and then supervised its construction at a foundry in Connecticut. At the sculpture's gala dedication on June 20, 1985, Major Tom Bradley proclaimed the day as "Louise Nevelson" Day.4


1"At 85, Louise Nevelson gets her day in the L.A. Sun," by Hunter Drohojowska, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, page B6, June 24, 1985.

2 "Works to Adorn Crocker Center," by Josine Ianco-Starrels, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 1983.

3 "More Space for Sailing the Nevelson Legend," by Suzanne Muchnic, Los Angeles Times, Pt. VI, p. 1, June 21, 1985.

4 Press Kit, by Casey & Sayre, Inc., June 20, 1985; see also "Louise Nevelson's 'Night Sail' at Crocker Center," Downtown News, pp. 12-13, June 24, 1985.

The text has been provided courtesy of Michael Several, Los Angeles, November 1998.

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