Amon Carter Museum Acquires Anna Hyatt Huntington’s The Team and Jean Xceron’s White and Gray, no. 256

Release date: 
November 20, 2008

FORT WORTH, Texas–Amon Carter Museum Director Ron Tyler announced today the acquisition of two 20th century American works: a bronze sculpture entitled The Team by Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876–1973) and a painting entitled White and Gray, no. 256 by Jean Xceron (1890–1967). Both works can be seen in the museum’s painting and sculpture galleries.

The Team
Anna Hyatt Huntington was one of the most prominent early 20th century animaliers, artists who specialize in the realistic portrayal of animals. The Team, a bronze of two draft horses working in tandem, is one of Huntington’s early works.

“With the purchase of The Team, we have significantly added to our collection of notable animal sculptures, which includes works by a number of Huntington’s contemporaries–Gutzon Borglum, William Stanley Haseltine, Alexander Proctor, Frederic Remington and Charles Russell,” Tyler says.

Huntington produced The Team in 1903 at the Roman Bronze Works foundry, one year after her formal training with George Grey Barnard and Hermon Atkins MacNeil at the Art Students League in New York. Depicting the harsh conditions of work horses, the piece’s subjects move precariously down an incline. Harnessed together, one horse is resolute, the other is struggling.

The Team is a testament to Huntington’s natural artistic gifts, keen powers of observation, and challenging compositions, all hallmarks of a masterwork,” says Rebecca Lawton, curator of paintings and sculpture. “She so perfectly captures the essence of these horses and their fiery spirits. We are privileged to have it in our collection and share it with others.”

White and Gray, no. 256
White and Gray, no. 256, painted in 1941, is among Greek-born American painter Jean Xceron’s most refined and rigorously constructed abstractions. Influenced by the movements of Cubism, Neoplasticism, Suprematism and Constructivism, the oil on canvas joins a variety of abstract works by Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis and John Ferren in the museum’s permanent collection.

White and Gray, no. 256 supplements a growing and impressive collection of abstract art in the Carter’s collection,” Tyler says. “The work provides an important bridge between the first and second generation of American abstract artists.”

In the painting, Xceron employs a series of rectilinear elements of various sizes and grid lines of diverse thickness, positioning them vertically and horizontally against a subtly modulated background. Moreover, the use of subdued tones for some of the shapes and lines allows them to appear to hover above the background, which shimmers, creating a radiant backdrop. The solid black rectangle at center left presents a darkened void, which is countered by the luminous and larger white rectangle at right. Xceron’s precise orchestration of elements is beautifully balanced, achieving an overall formal unity that suggests weightless and suspended energy.

“With White and Gray, no. 256, Xceron achieves great compositional harmony and a purer, more elegant formalism than is seen in his earlier work,” Lawton says. “The painting epitomizes his mature style, reflecting both the range of styles he had absorbed in Paris, as well as his own interpretation of them. Abstract art enthusiasts will certainly delight in this piece.”

About Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876–1973)
Anna Hyatt Huntington was raised in Cambridge, Mass., where her family fostered her love of animals and encouraged her to develop her artistic talents. She studied with Henry Hudson Kitson in Boston, with Hermon Atkins MacNeil and George Grey Barnard at the Art Students League in New York, as well as with Gutzon Borglum. Huntington worked with her sister Harriet Hyatt Mayor early in her career and later collaborated with Abastenia St. Leger Eberle on many large works.

In the early 1900’s Huntington sold her work through the Boston emporium Shreve, Crump and Low. At a show at the Boston Art Club, her first major patron, the legendary Boston financier Thomas W. Lawson, likely encountered her work. He considered her “the coming Rosa Bonheur” and eventually owned a sizable number of her bronzes.

After working several years in Boston and New York, Huntington went abroad to work in Italy and France, where she created the life-sized, bronze sculpture Joan of Arc. After returning to New York City, she produced many pieces from 1911 to 1917, receiving much acclaim. In 1912 she was listed as one of 12 U.S. women earning $50,000 annually.

Huntington married philanthropist and scholar Archer Milton Huntington in 1923. They purchased Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina as a place of respite after Anna contracted tuberculosis in 1927. The gardens became a public showcase for more than 300 sculptures–a mix of Huntington’s work as well as her collected pieces. After she recovered, Anna and her husband moved to Connecticut in 1939, where she continued working until a few years before her death at age 97.

About Jean Xceron (1890–1967)
Jean Xceron’s formal training occurred while attending the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C., from 1910 to 1917. He moved to New York City in 1920, where he met Joaquin Torres-García, who became an early mentor. By 1927 Xceron had moved to Paris, earning a living as an art critic for the Chicago Tribune and the Boston Evening Transcript. But more importantly, Xceron immersed himself in abstract art through direct contact with a number of Europe’s major abstractionists including Jean Arp, Albert Gleizes, Jean Hélion, Wassily Kandinsky, Fernand Léger, Piet Mondrian and Theo van Doesburg, among others. With an exhibition of his work in 1931 at the prestigious Galerie de France, Xceron made a name for himself among Parisian art circles, which served him well upon his return to the United States in late 1937.

Xceron’s move back to New York coincided with the development of the “second wave” of abstract art in America. The American Abstract Artists (AAA) was formed in 1936, and the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, containing the Solomon R. Guggenheim Collection, opened in 1939. Xceron was eagerly embraced by the artists within AAA for his firsthand knowledge of European abstraction. Hilla Rebay, Solomon Guggenheim’s art adviser and the founding director of his museum, quickly purchased several Xceron paintings for Guggenheim’s collection and hired the artist to work as an artist/curator at the museum, a position he held until his death in 1967.