Between Two Worlds: Annette Nancarrow in Mexico and America

Saturday, September 13, 2014 - Saturday, January 17, 2015

Web banner image: Annette Nancarrow, Untitled (details), Undated (circa late 1940s), Oil on canvas, 30 x 37 3/4", Collection of Luis and Karen Stephens

Featuring over forty works, the Taubman Museum of Art is pleased to present an exhibition on artist Annette Nancarrow (American, 1907–1992). Spanning nearly three decades, the exhibition Between Two Worlds: Annette Nancarrow in Mexico and America will highlight her development as an artist across countries and cultures during a pivotal and dynamic time in the 20th century art world. Although less known historically than her artist friends and contemporaries Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Jośe Clemente Orozco, this exhibition will shed remarkable light on her achievements and solidify her place in the development of significant art movements of the time.

Exhibition curator David Mickenberg outlines her artistic oeuvre, “While creative and often playful, the real strength of her career and her importance to history lies within her struggle to capture the beauty of difference, the merging of cultures, and the search for an understanding of how an artist can respond to the forces of change enveloping her.” Organized thematically, the exhibition features works in a variety of media including an important large scale mural titled Boy Who Dreamed of Becoming a Bullfighter created by Nancarrow in 1949 as a commission for the Hotel Borda in Taxco.

Art Historian and Nancarrow biographer Rosemary Carstens comments on the specific influences, especially in Mexico, that defined her work: “Influenced by the exotic energy and imagery of this new culture, Annette gravitated toward bullfighting themes in her artwork, combining bull, toreador, and the iconic calla lily in a unique fashion, painting with bold strokes in dreamlike sequences.”

Nancarrow was inspired by both the exotic and the commonplace wherever she traveled; she created compositions that highlighted a variety of topics from the Spanish War to the plight of the industrial worker to bullfighting. Mickenberg shares Nancarrow’s unique approach to art making: “Her deft, abbreviated, brushstrokes capture the spirit of life on the streets and the rhythm of the visual diversity and clutter of urban life. It is not the people who inhabit Annette’s compositions that are her concern, but the architecture of the street, depth created by the planes of signage and buildings, and the gritty, working class environment.”

Nancarrow was born in New York in 1907, received a BA in art from Hunter College and an MFA from Columbia. She obtained further training at the Academia de San Carlos in Mexico City. A world traveler, she resided in the United States, Mexico and Acapulco during her lifetime. Although trained in the nuances of American Art and its regionalism, her major artistic moment came when she began collegial friendships with several Mexican muralists such as Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jose Clemente Orozco, eventually working as an apprentice to Rivera on his seminal mural, the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. Her work was featured in several exhibitions both in Mexico and in the United States during her career and she received international recognition when her large scale mural painted for the Hotel Borda was selected to receive an award by then Mexican president Miguel Alemán. Nancarrow’s work is in the notable collections of the Santa Fe Museum of Art in New Mexico and the National Women in the Arts Museum in Washington D.C, as well as in several private collections worldwide.

Between Two Worlds: Annette Nancarrow in Mexico and America is organized by the Taubman Museum of Art and curated by David Mickenberg, the Priscilla Payne Hurd President and CEO of the Allentown Art Museum. Exhibition sponsorship is provided by Arkay Packaging and is sponsored in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. This exhibition will be on view September 13, 2014 - January 17, 2015 in the Bank of America Foundation/Dominion Resources Gallery.

Exhibition image: Annette Nancarrow, Self-Portrait, Undated, Oil on canvas, 23 x 19", Image courtesy of the collection of Luis and Karen Stephens