Nevelson was born in Kiev in 1899. The family moved to America five years later and settled in Maine. Her father worked in a lumber yard where the young Louise made her first sculptures. She moved to New York in 1920, where she lived for the rest of her life. Influenced partly by Surrealism, partly by Mexican sculpture, Nevelson assembled sculptures from scraps of wood in the early 1940s. She became internationally famous for her painted, wooden, wall assemblages, made up of compartments containing abstract shapes and found pieces of wood.