Ancel Nunn (1928-1999)
Born in Seymour, Texas, Ancel Nunn began drawing at age 12. He added to his early art education through summer workshops under noted artists such as Dong Kingman and Alexander Hogue. In 1944 his dry point etching, The Domino Players, won Honorable Mention in the prestigious Ingersoll Competition. The following year his watercolor, The Cockfight, was awarded first place.
Nunn graduated from high school in Abilene in 1946. He entered the U.S. Army in 1947, spending several different active duty periods and attaining the rank of Major. During this period he did little or no painting. He was recalled to active duty in 1963 and produced no paintings during that year. In 1964 he was again released from the army and at that time committed himself to becoming a professional artist.
While much of his early work was nostalgic in nature and reflected regionalist images, many of his later works possess somewhat surreal elements. Using common objects such as chairs, doors, and gates he examines the themes of life, change and death. Nunn's art is full of paradox and irony. There is a timelessness and stillness even when skies are filled with tumultuous clouds. Objects animate and inanimate are lovingly painted in realistic detail. They are then transformed by unexpected spatial settings and unusual juxtaposing with often seemingly unrelated items. He maddeningly appropriates all history and events to reconstruct his own parables of life. His appropriations are as likely to come from the history of art as from the personal events of his own life. He playfully involves us in his journey of mental and metaphysical gymnastics and we are delighted. We are delighted because of his powerful symbols of the familiar; we are intrigued by his allusions to the unfamiliar.