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But like a Dan Brown novel, the clues to the artist were all around her.
Look no farther than the two quotes greeting people coming through the Paley Gates entrance on the east side of the complex. One is from Pablo Picasso. The other? Louise Nevelson.
“I have made my world and it is a much better world than I ever saw outside.”
Or perhaps you know a little about Daniels personal art tastes.
“She’s my favorite woman artist of all time,” Daniels said.
On Monday, Daniels announced the museum was adding a 12-sculpture installation, entitled “Dawn’s Forest,” by the renowned artist. The massive sculptures, which stand as tall as 25 feet and as wide as 30 feet, were donated by the Georgia-Pacific Co. after spending 22 years in the lobby of the company’s Atlanta headquarters. Although the museum has yet to have the works appraised for insurance purposes, they are expected to be worth between $5 million and $10 million.
The sculptures represent a step up in stature for the museum, which has focused its collection on Mexican and American modernist art but has yet to bring in a truly marquee permanent exhibit.
“I’ve always thought we had a jewel of a museum,” Daniels said. “This helps us polish that jewelry.”
Local art cognoscenti agree. The acquisition has earned praise from academics and critics alike.
“You could make a good case that she is the most important female artist from the 1960s until her death,” said Donald Miller, a long-time art and architecture critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who is now a Naples resident.
Morgan P. Paine, leader of the arts program at Florida Gulf Coast University, said the works would be the most important pieces in a public collection in Southwest Florida.
“It’s a wonderful resource for our students and the whole community,” Paine said.
One of the interesting conundrums faced by the museum with the installation is fitting in. Daniels said the plan is to use the domed entryway to the museum as the permanent home for the works. That means clearing out the food court area, for which Daniels hopes to build a new space.
“We’re going to have a crane to put them in and have to take part of the dome apart,” she said.
At least 10 people at the museum are now feverishly working in preparation for the start of the fall season. The exhibit is scheduled to be ready for the museum’s return from its annual summer hiatus, which begins at the end of the month.
While not one of her most famous pieces, “Dawn’s Forest” is a significant work from Nevelson. Installed in 1986, two years before she died, the work collects pieces from a particularly important period in her arc as an artist. She initially made her sculptures from bits of reclaimed cast-off wood she would get from lumber yards. But her work from the early 1970s, where the pieces in “Dawn’s Forest” originate, came from a period when she had gained enough exposure to precisely fabricate pieces for her puzzle-like sculptures.
The work became available when Georgia-Pacific decided to renovate its headquarters’ lobby last year. The company considered redesigning the lobby around the installation, but also explored finding it a new home, said spokesman James Malone. He said executives felt the Naples Museum of Art was the right fit.
“‘Dawn’s Forest’ has been a central piece of our headquarters building for over 20 years and we are excited that the piece will become a permanent exhibit of the Naples Museum of Art,” Georgia-Pacific’s CEO and president Jim Hannan said in a press release.
Although the Nevelson sculptures were donated, the museum will pick up the tab for transporting and insuring the work as it moves to Naples from Atlanta. That process is scheduled to start sometime in June.
Connect with Jonathan Foerster at www.naplesnews.com/staff/jonathan_foerster