Now open at NMWA, A World Apart: Anna Ancher and the Skagen Art Colony showcases over 60 paintings by the avant-garde Danish painter and her contemporaries at Skagen, a seaside artists’ community in northern Denmark.
Ancher, the only female Skagen artist to receive high acclaim and sustain a lifelong career, consistently tested the bounds of painting. NMWA Associate Curator Virginia Treanor highlights Ancher’s interiors, sometimes devoid of human presence, as “evidence of Ancher’s interest, not in replicating the reality of the room or wall, or even the light, but rather what is left when these things are stripped away and all that remains are color and form.”
Rejecting idealized subject matter, the Skagen painters captured the reality around them. The exhibition’s thematic sections include images of Skagen’s rural landscape, the Anchers, hard-working townspeople, domestic interiors, and breakthrough works that showcase Anna Ancher’s stylistic innovations.
A catalogue published with the exhibition contains full-color images of the Skagen artists’ works, historical photos of the artists’ community, and essays by Helga Ancher Foundation board member Elisabeth Fabritius and Skagens Museum curator Mette Bøgh Jensen. As Fabritius says, “Anna Ancher’s art is unlike that of anyone else. In its essence it is tied to the special world of motifs in Skagen: the fishermen’s families, the harvesters, the heathers, the special colors, and the brilliant summer light.” The respect she received for her artistic contributions was “unusual—a happy exception to the social conventions of that age.”