ROCKLAND — On Friday, Sept. 23 — Louise Nevelson’s birthday — and in advance of the museum’s 75th anniversary celebration throughout 2023, the Farnsworth Art Museum opens the exhibition “Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk,” which traces the artist’s formative years to her emergence as a sculptor of international renown through works selected from the museum’s collection. On display in the Farnsworth’s Nevelson/Berliawsky Gallery, the exhibition features more than 40 works of art by Nevelson (1899-1988), from early paintings, drawings, and figurative sculptures, to later abstract painted wood constructions, collages, and examples of the pioneering artist’s unique handcrafted jewelry. “Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk” offers one of the most comprehensive presentations of the artist’s oeuvre on view in the United States.

“When I was growing up in Rockland from grammar school to high school, there was no museum. One of the great joys of my life is that we have a first-rate one now — a beautiful building that encloses creative works that can stand with the great ones. That is something that I had not expected in my wildest dreams to find in a town in Maine — that jewel that shines.” — Louise Nevelson

Nevelson wrote these words following an exhibition of her work at the Farnsworth Art Museum in 1985. In the four years preceding that exhibition, Nevelson donated 87 pieces of art to the museum, including 56 of her own works. Her brother, Nathan Berliawsky, and sister, Anita Berliawsky Wienstein, also made significant gifts, making the Farnsworth’s Nevelson collection the second largest holding of the artist’s work after the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City.

Born Louise Berliawsky in Kiev, Russia in 1899, Nevelson moved with her family to Rockland, Maine in 1905. At age 20, after marrying Charles Nevelson, she moved to New York City. She later left her family to pursue her art, heading to Germany to become a student of Hans Hofmann, and also working as an assistant to Diego Rivera. In the 1940s, Nevelson began collecting wood objects of all types and putting them together in unusual and innovative ways. In 1957, a box of liquor she had received for Christmas, with all of its interior partitions, gave her the idea to put her assemblages into boxes.

Although her first New York show was in 1941, the exhibition that established Nevelson’s reputation as an important artist was in 1958. The display of “Moon Gardens + One,” in which she exhibited a black wood environment, prompted the chief curator at the Museum of Modern Art to include Nevelson in the 1959 “Sixteen Americans” show at MoMA, for which Nevelson created her famous work, “Dawn’s Wedding Feast.”

In conjunction with “Louise Nevelson: Dawn to Dusk,” the Farnsworth will host a members-only gallery experience Friday, Oct. 7, from 3 to 4 p.m. before the October First Friday Art Walk. Farnsworth Art Museum members are invited to preview the exhibition with a walk-through led by museum curators, followed by a reception.

More from the Louise Nevelson Foundation: Nevelson is featured in the current 59th “La Biennale di Venezia” exhibition in Venice, Italy for the second time. The first time in this globally prestigious art survey was in 1962 and it put her on the world map. The Louise Nevelson Foundation participated in this year’s “Biennale,” in addition to the Arsenale’s “Homage to the Universe,” with a collateral exhibition at San Marco Piazza entitled “Louise Nevelson. Persistence” — a nine-room historical survey of her artwork with more than 60 works. The word “persistence” definitely takes into account the fortitude she built growing up in Rockland. The Farnsworth’s re-installing of her gallery comes at a fortuitous time with Rockland’s famous artist being recognized in both locations. For more information, visit louisenevelsonvenice.com.

Louise Nevelson Getty Images/Courtesy of the Farnsworth Art Museum