ROCKLAND, ME.- The Farnsworth Art Museum
announced the recent acquisition of a work by American artist Louise Nevelson. The 96 x 50 x 26 ½ inch sculpture, Atmosphere and Environment II, created in 1966 in painted aluminum, is a gift to the collection by Ms. Rosalind Avnet Lazarus. Atmosphere and Environment II is currently on view to the public in the museums Micah Gallery, where it is displayed alongside three other works by the artist. The Farnsworth, in Rockland, Maine, has one of the worlds largest public collections of works by Louise Nevelson.
This beautiful sculpture is a key addition to our museums collection, commented Farnsworth Director Christopher Brownawell. Though the Farnsworth already has an extensive collection of works by Louise Nevelson, this is the first of her large-scale metal sculptures to come to her home-town museum. We are very grateful to Ms. Lazarus for this generous gift, and we are thrilled to have the work so quickly on public display.
Born Leah Berliawsky in present-day Ukraine, Nevelson came with her two siblings and mother to Rockland in 1905. There they joined her father, who had come to the United States to escape the persecution of the Jews common throughout the Russian Empire, and to establish a new life for his family. After graduating from Rockland High School, where she was the captain of the schools basketball team, Leah married businessman Bernard Nevelson and moved to New York City as Louise Nevelson. She called New York a city of collage, noting its layers of light, color, form, and shadow. These impressions inspired her sweeping, gestural, figurative drawings, her experimental prints, and her blocky, three-dimensional constructions. These assemblages of found and modified wood pieces, balanced yet complex arrangements within arrangements, became the defining work of her career.
From 1966 to 1970 Nevelson designed several large scale metal sculptures entitled Atmosphere and Environment. The choice of metal, either steel or aluminum painted black with epoxy enamel, or unpainted steel that would turn brownish with rust, was a significant departure for her. Her growing national reputation had rested on using wood as her medium, usually painted black, sometimes white, and relatively rarely in gold.
Chief Curator Michael K. Komanecky said: In this particular work, the solids and voids created by the black wooden boxes in Nevelsons Endless Column have been replaced by a different kind of void in which one sees entirely through the sculpture into the space beyond. It is yet another evolution of Nevelson's exploration of space.