Sought after for her large-scale sculptural works, Nevelson was also one of the first artists, and the only woman, to become a central figure in the burgeoning public art revival of the 1960s. She created more than 22 public commissions in her lifetime. Officially opened in 1978, Louise Nevelson Plaza was one of the first plazas in New York City to honor a woman and the first to honor an artist. It occupies a site—on William Street between Maiden Lane and Liberty Street—that once included Legion Memorial Square and an empty lot. When an opportunity arose in the 1970s to reinvigorate the space, Doris C. Freedman, founder and then-Director of the Public Art Fund and a champion of new public art commissions throughout the city, contacted Pace Gallery and suggested a work by Nevelson. Under the auspices of New York Mayor Abraham Beame and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Nevelson was invited to redesign the space. She produced Shadows and Flags for the plaza in 1977, with support from the gallery, and in particular from Joyce Pomeroy Schwartz, then-Director of New Commissions at Pace. The sculpture park incorporated not only seven of Nevelson`s canonical forms but also trees and benches. The artist specifically designed each element to function as an integral part of the space. The site was dedicated as Louise Nevelson Plaza in 1978 by David Rockefeller and New York Mayor Edward Koch.As with her other major public works, Nevelson`s working process for Shadows and Flags involved salvaging found materials such as scrap steel and templates for machine forms, which she assembled by hand, using large cranes and ladders to create a model from which to cast the final sculpture in welded Cor-Ten steel, which she then painted monochrome black. 'I have lived in New York for nearly 60 years, and it has been one grand love affair from the day I put my foot here. New York is a city of collage, a collage of our time. It has all kinds of people, all kinds of races, and all kinds of religions in it, and the whole thing is magnificent.' -- Louise Nevelson Interested in creating public works with a relationship to their architectural setting, Nevelson first viewed the plaza site on William Street from upper-story office windows. With this perspective in mind, she opted to “place the sculptures on ‘legs` so they would appear to float like flags."

Installed, 1977
Restored, 2010