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Born in Brooklyn to working class parents, Richard Nonas (1936-2021) did not start out as an artist. He began his career studying literature and anthropology at four schools spending ten years developing a sense of space from the people he studied in Mexico and Canada, which would later turn up in his sculptures. He taught anthropology part time at Queens College in New York; however, while writing a book about his studies, he began to feel uneasy about writing such detailed accounts of other people’s lives. In 1967, Nonas departed from academia due to an epiphany he had: One day while walking his dog, Nonas recalled, “I held up two pieces of wood, pushed them together and, incredibly, they conveyed strong and specific emotion. It was identifiable emotion with no story, a disembodied emotion that I could not fathom or explain. I felt like I had been hit on the head with a hammer". Nonas came to Post-Minimalism later than other artists of the period and rejected their use heavy metals and machinery. As part of the early-1970s art scene in SoHo and TriBeCa, Nonas developed a terse, undecorated style using steel, wood and stone to create sculptures that both resonated with their surroundings and interrupted them. He displayed them in alternative art spaces in New York City, most notably the artist-run 112 Greene Street, until 1976, when Nonas exhibited in the first show at MOMA PS1. Nonas believed in the power of objects and had a drive to use art to challenge gallery spaces. What Nonas wanted was  “sculpture that activates its space, that confuses you a little, keeps you involved in it as you walked past it.”

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