Collecting Art History: Taste on the Southern Plains
September 15, 2012—February 16, 2013
The environment surrounding the George and Lucille Nance homestead in Randall County, Texas, was typical for a thriving Panhandle cattle ranch in the early twentieth century: remote, barren, flat and dusty. But entering the Nance home was like being transported to a different time and place. Lucille Nance was a collector of fine art objects and furnishings, but she was also a collector of art history.
Collecting Art History: Taste on the Southern Plains explains how regional collectors brought art masterpieces to West Texas.
Lucille Nance, for example, chose objects representing particular styles of historical art—especially eighteenth-century Rococo—to create interiors of luxury, comfort and culture. For Nance, these items connected her to an era vastly different from her own modern, industrial present; they bestowed an aura of aristocratic refinement and leisure. Images of lush, idyllic landscapes populated by amorous shepherds, splendidly attired courtiers and wandering minstrels contrasted with the harsh, dry surroundings outside her home.
Nance was not alone in her enthusiasm for collecting art historical objects in our area. Other collectors—the John Adair family, Judge James Hamlin, Johnie Griffin, Harold Bugbee, and numerous others—likewise brought historical art in the form of prints, miniatures and sculptures to West Texas.
Visitors can discover trends in art history through a close examination of these donors’ objects, including the history and popularity of European porcelain, the rise and fall of the miniature painting as a genre, the centrality of prints for circulating works of art, and the dramatic shift from the pastel pastorals of the Rococo period to the mythological allegories of Neo-Classicism.
Collecting Art History also will portray the importance of reproduction in art history, illustrating how art objects produced as multiples that copy other works of art are themselves worthy of study. Multiplicity, replication and circulation were central to the art world of aristocratic Europe, and remained so in modern America, especially in the remote location of the Panhandle.
Collecting Art History: Taste on the Southern Plains is co-curated by Amy Von Lintel, West Texas A&M University Assistant Professor of Art History; Elly Mons, WTAMU Coordinator of Nationally Competitive Scholarships; and Michael R. Grauer, PPHM Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art.