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First of 'Maine 200' exhibitions at the Farnsworth

'Transforming the Ordinary: Women in American Book Cover Design'
Jan 30, 2020

ROCKLAND — On Saturday, Feb. 8, the Farnsworth Art Museum opens the first of its Maine 200 exhibitions. Entitled "Transforming the Ordinary: Women in American Book Cover Design," this intimate show will be on display in the museum’s Library Gallery through March 21, 2021. To celebrate Maine’s bicentennial, the Farnsworth will be unveiling a series of exhibitions throughout the winter and spring under the banner "First to Hail the Rising Sun: Maine Through the Eyes of its Artists."

"Transforming the Ordinary: Women in American Book Cover Design" examines the heyday of book cover design from the 1890s through the 1930s, a time of great artistic experimentation influenced by the aesthetics of Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts Movement. During this period, women created thousands of book cover designs for the major trade publishers whose books were intended for the mass market. These designs ranged from simple one-color stamped designs to more elaborate multi-color designs, some of which were stunningly beautiful works of art in and of themselves.

Organized by Farnsworth Registrar Angela Waldron, and drawn primarily from the Farnsworth Library’s collection, the decorative covers featured in the exhibition are by some of the best known and most prolific cover designers of the period, such as Margaret Armstrong, Amy Sacker, Bertha Stuart, Sarah Wyman Whitman, and a group known as The Decorative Designers.

In 2020, on the occasion of Maine’s bicentennial, the Farnsworth Art Museum will present a series of projects that celebrate the state’s ongoing role in American art. Under the banner "First to Hail the Rising Sun: Maine Through the Eyes of its Artists," these projects will include both specific exhibitions as well as a series of audio tours throughout the museum’s galleries that will enable visitors to explore Maine through the Farnsworth’s nationally renowned collection. Following the book cover design show, the Farnsworth will mount the following exhibitions: "Elliot Porter: All the Wild Places;" "Andrew Wyeth: A Maine Legacy;" and "George Tice and Andrew Wyeth: Parallel Visions." In addition, in collaboration with Rizzoli Electa, the museum will publish a new book on its holdings, "Maine and American Art: The Farnsworth Art Museum," to be released around March 15, 2020. Funding for "First to Hail the Rising Sun: Maine Through the Eyes of its Artists" is provided by Camden National Bank, the premier sponsor of the Farnsworth's bicentennial programs; and by donors to its exhibition development and education fund.

Named by the Boston Globe as one of the finest small museums in the country, the Farnsworth Art Museum offers a nationally recognized collection of works from many of America’s greatest artists. It is open year-round as the only museum dedicated solely to American and Maine-inspired art. Through its remarkable collection of more than 15,000 works, inventive exhibitions, wide-ranging intellectual resources and energetic educational programming, visitors from around the world gain a deep appreciation of the ongoing story of Maine’s role in American art.

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