Nancy Genn, American (1929 - )

Nancy Genn
Post War California artist, Nancy Genn studied at the California School of Fine Arts (now The San Francisco Art Institute) and University of California, Berkeley (1947 - 1949).

Selected Group Exhibitions: Fourth Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, California Palace of The Legion of Honor 1951; 71st Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1952; 72nd Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1953; 73rd Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1954; 76th Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition of the San Francisco Art
Association at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1957; 77th Annual Painting and Sculpture Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1958; Eightieth Annual Painting Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Institute (Formerly the San Francisco Art Association) at the San Francisco Museum of Art, 1961; The Art Bank of the San Francisco Art Association, 1958, 59, 60, 62, 64, 66; Winter Invitational, California Palace of The Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 1960, 61.

Literature: Thomas Albright, Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-1980; San Francisco Art Association (Institute) Catalog of the Art Bank.

Artist's Statement:

"My style is deeply personal, navigating between geometric abstraction, landscape and architectural motifs, light and calligraphic images."

Recalling her childhood, Nancy Genn admiringly speaks of a mother who vigorously pursued her two passions -- art and the environment. "I grew up with intelligent, strong women who did things", the artist remembers. Working at a time "when the only accepted publicity for ladies was the announcement of birth, marriage and death", Genn's mother quietly but tirelessly lobbied to secure funding for county parks and for trees for San Francisco streets. "She introduced me at an early age to the importance of our environment with an emphasis on trees -- the shape and texture. Her perception and appreciation of our environment has been a lasting influence."

Genn's work reflect her own sharp and appreciative eye for detail in both natural and architectural settings. Shape, texture, line, light and color are all balanced and considered not as merely descriptive flourishes, but as essential, striking forces themselves.The works cohere at a point between abstraction and representation -- the titles evoke a sense of place rather than specify its absolute parameters, the pieces, which may include calligraphy, pencils marks, bits of an architect's topographical map and Persian script, allude to a narrative while refusing to tell only one tale. Her abstraction provoke visceral responses -- they are reminiscent of landscapes, seascapes or cityscapes, but reach for something beyond a facade or blue horizon. The active visual fields draw the viewer in, allowing us to become part of her experience, as the experience simultaneously becomes our own.

Once again, it seems to be her mother's early impact that nurtured Genn's resonating abstract style. Genn owns the notebooks of the Japanese master Hokusai, which her mother purchased in 1917, and feels that his sketchbooks in pen and ink have been an influence on the line and structure of my paintings." Asian art was "part of the household", the artist recalls. Throughout her career, which now spans almost five decades, Genn has pursued this early connection with Eastern forms and thought. Although she feels that her mode of geometric abstraction is more widely practiced and accepted on the East coast of the United States, her life long location in California has been a vital source for her art. "I am interested in the realm of ideas -- that is why we like Berkeley and the San Francisco Bay area. Here we are on the cutting hedge of thought. We are on the Pacific Rim. There is a link between Western ideas and Asian thought here".

Her travels throughout all of Asia, as well as to Italy, Greece and Turkey, have profoundly affected her work. The artist gained international recognition in the 1970's for her experiments with hand made paper. Using what is now known as the "Genn method", she created three-dimensional abstract works. Not only did she revitalize an ancient Japanese art form but she revitalizes the medium of paper itself. "Paper is an old material but here I have used it in a totally different way", she says. The resulting works of art unite not only East and West, but the artist's own experience as both painter and sculptor.

Genn's more recent works still subtly plays with the three-dimensionality of paper on canvas and the three-dimensionality of sculpture. She may had layers of monotype or printed papers collected from her exotic travels, as if creating a new sense of place rich with personal significance from the literal scraps of ancient destinations. Memories are not as much catalogued or reported as they are created, emerging from the deep colors she found in Rome, the haunting luminosity she discovered in Turkey's Lycian shore, or the powerful, solitary ruins she encountered rising up from the desert of Yemen. "I enjoy the possibilities for subtle change; it allows for the thorough explanation of an idea". Genn's work seems constantly fluid and changing, beckoning the viewer's eye to move with it into a delicate tapestry of form, texture and memory.

Selected Solo Shows

2012 Smith Gallery, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
2011 Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica Center for the Arts, Pacifica, CA
2010 Sagan Piechota, San Francisco, CA
2008 Flatfile Galleries, Chicago, IL
2005 Flatfile Galleries, Chicago, IL
2004 Istituto Italiano di Cultura Chicago/The Art Institute of Chicago, IL
2004 Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Los Angeles, CA
2003 Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
2003 Bolinas Museum, Bolinas, CA
2003,00,99 Takada Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2002 Ulivi Gallery, Prato, Italy
2000 Leighton Gallery, Blue Hill, ME
1999 Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA
1997 Michael Petronko Gallery, New York, NY
1996, 93, 91 Harcourts Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1994 Ann Reed Gallery, Sun Valley, Idaho
1994 American Association for Advancement of Science, Washington DC
1993, 92 Brendan Walter Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1992 Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, UC Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
1990 Richard Iri Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
1987 Galleria 9 Colonne/Spe, Bologna, Italy
1986, 84 Ivory/Kimpton Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1984 Andrew Crispo Gallery, New York, NY
1983 Kala Institute Gallery, Berkeley, CA
1981, 71, 77 Susan Caldwell Gallery, New York, NY
1981, 78, 76 Linda Farris Gallery, Seattle, WA
1980 Inoue Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1978 Annely Juda Fine Art, London, England
1977, 75 William Sawyer Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1976 Los Angeles Institute for Contemporary Art, LA, CA
1971 The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
1971 John Bolles Gallery, San Francisco, CA
1970 Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA
1966 Cowell College Gallery, UCSC
1963 M. H. De Young Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1960 David Cole Gallery, San Francisco, CA

Selected Group Shows

2012 Charting the Waters, Vessel Gallery, Oakland, CA
2011 Prints Byte; The Cutting Edge of Printmaking, SOMARTS Gallery, San Francisco, CA
2008 Distinguished Women Artists: ‘88-’06, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
2008 S.O.F.A. Flatefile galleries, Chicago, CA
2007 The Gyeonggi Art Center, Peong Tek, South Korea
2006-7 Magnolia Editions: Woven Transcriptioons The Belgium Tapestries, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, California
2006-7 Reflections on a Legacy: Vitreographs from Littleton Studios, Turchin Center for the Visual Arts:Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
2005 Eighteen Profiles:Distinguished Women Artists of California, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, California
2003 Master Paintings and Woodcuts, William Whipple Gallery SouthWest State University, Marshall, MN
2002 Five Women Artist, Four Generations, One Family, DL Gallery, Seoul, South Korea
2002 The Elements of Geometry, Monique Goldstrom Gallery, New York, NY
1997 Prints From Glass, Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
1997 The Old New Garde, J.J. Bookings Gallery, San Francisco,CA
1995 New York Collection 1995, Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo, NY
1995 Transparent Motives, New Orleans Museum of Art at Louisiana, State University, New Orleans, LA
1994 San Francisco Women Artists Celebrates 100 Years of Bay Area Artist, San Francisco, CA
1993-4 New York Selection, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
1993 Breaking Traditions, Museum of University of California at Blackhawk, Danville, CA
1992 Pacific Prints, Pacific Art League of Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA
1990 East Bay Abstraction, Harcourts Modern and Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA
1986 First International/Biennale of Paper, Leopold-Hoesch Museum, Duren, W. Germany
1985 Berkeley Printmakers, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
1985 Transliteration: The Pacific Interchange, San Jose State of Contemporary Art, San Jose
1984 Paperworks: A National Invitational, Cheney Cowles Memorial Museum, Spokane, WA
1983 Seoul/San Francisco: Prints and Drawings, Korean National Art Center, Seoul, Korea
1982 Elegant Miniatures from San Francisco and Japan, Kyoto, Japan
1978 Paper as Medium, Smithsonian Institution Traveling, Exhibition Service
1978 Cast Paper, Pratt Graphics Center, New York, NY
1978 White Paper I, UCSC
1978 Painting and Sculpture Today, Indianapolis Museum, Indianapolis, IN
1977 Susan Caldwell Gallery, New York, NY
1977 Art Today, Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, Memphis, TN
1977 Drawings, Linda Farris Gallery, Seattle, WA
1977 New Ways with Paper, National Collection of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC
1976 The Handmade Paper, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
1976 Linda Farris Gallery, Seattle, WA
1976 Susan Caldwell Gallery, New York, NY
1976 Works on Handmade Paper, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
1975 Contemporary Graphics Center, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
1975 Prints California, The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
1974 Contemporary Graphics Center, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
1974 Susan Caldwell Gallery, New York, NY
1973 San Francisco Printmakers, The Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
1971 Contemporary American Prints and Drawings, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1971 Sculpture, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1965 Art in Religion, Museum West, San Francisco, CA
1965 San Francisco Collector, M. H. De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
1965 Art Across America, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
1963 Images of Woman, The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
1963 New Images of San Francisco, M. H. De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
1962 Drawings: West Coast America, Auckland City Art Gallery, Aukland, New Zealand. Travel in New Zealand through 1963
1960 Winter Invitational, California Palace Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
1958 Art Association Member's Show, California Palace Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
1957 Annual Exhibition: California Painters, The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
1955 Twentieth Century Drawings, Stanford Art Gallery, Stanford University, Stanford, CA
1955 Annual Watercolor Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association, San Francisco Museum of art, San Francisco, CA
1955 S.E.C.A. Board Selection Show, San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA

Museum Collections

Achenbauch Foundation, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
American Craft Museum, New York, NY
Auckland Museum, Aukland, New Zealand
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA
Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA
Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN
International Center of Aesthetic Research, Italy
Library of Congress, Washington, DC
Los Angeles County Museum, CA
Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
The New York Public Library, New York, NY
New York University Art Collection, NY
The Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA
Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR
San Francisco Museum of Art, CA
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC
Southwest State University Art Museum, Marshall, MN
University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley
University of Texas, El Paso, TX
Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MI
Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum, Cullowhee, NC

Selected Corporate Collections

Alps Electric (USA) Inc., San Jose, CA
Amerada Hess Corporation, New York, NY
American Can Co., Greenwich, CT
American Financial Corp., Cincinnati, OH
AT&T, New York, NY
Bank Building Corp., Cumberland, MD
Chase Manhattan Bank, New York, NY
Coudert Brothers, Tokyo, Japan
Dean Witter, San Francisco, CA
Foster & Jacobs, Cincinnati, OH
Gannett Co. Inc., Washington, DC
Golden Gateway Inc., San Francisco, CA
Graduate Theology Union, Berkeley, CA
Graphic Controls Corp., Buffalo, NY
Harris Bank, Chicago, IL
Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto, CA
Hitachi Foundation, Washington, DC
Hodgson Russ, Buffalo, NY
Hughes Aircraft, Los Angeles, CA
Hyatt Regency, Buffalo, NY
IBM, San Jose, CA
International Center of Aesthetic Research, Italy
International Data Group, Boston, MA
International Paper Co.
Le Bow Industries, New York, NY
Lehman Bros., San Francisco, CA
Mark Industries, Buffalo, NY
McCrory Corp., New York, NY
Mead Paper Co., OH
National Telecom, Nashville, TN
Nordstroms, Seattle, WA
Olympic Four Seasons Hotel, Seattle, WA
Orrick, Herrington & Outcliff, San Francisco, CA
PRBO Conservation Science, Petaluma, CA
City of San Francisco, Hall of Justisce
San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, CA
Scubber, Stevens & Clark Inc., San Francisco, CA
Security Pacific National Bank, Mountain View, CA
Simpson Paper Co., Seattle, WA
South Western Publishing Co., Buffalo, NY
Technimetrics, New York, NY
Travenol laboratories, Deerfield Park, IL
U.S. News & World Report, Washington, DC
Utah Construction Co., San Francisco, CA
Vesti Trust, Boston, MA
Western Electric, New York, NY
Westminster Bank, New York, NY

Awards

Visiting Artist American Academy in Rome, 1989 & 1994
United States/Japan Creative Arts Fellowship, Japan-United
States Friendship Commission, 1978-1979
HUD Award for Design Excellence (U.S. Dept. of Housing and
Urban Development), Honor Award, 1968
Phelan Award, De Young Museum, San Francisco, 1963

Activities

University of California Berkeley Art Alumni Group, President 2008-2011
University of California Berkeley Art Alumni Group, Member 2000-Present

Artist's Gallery

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