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Secrets of the artistic cave; Nancarrow O’gorman home-studio


The house where the composer Conlon Nancarrow lived (1912-1997), located west of Mexico City, in the Las Águilas neighborhood, has been recovered and converted into a house-studio that will open its doors next Saturday to appreciate its petromurales and interior spaces, and will schedule its definitive opening for specialists and the general public in 2021, along with a program of exhibitions and artistic residencies.

This was reported to Excelsior the art historian Adriana Sandoval, director of the Fundación Espacio Nancarrow O’Gorman, who highlighted the space as one of the most interesting examples of organic architecture in CDMX.

History indicates that in this house designed by the painter and architect Juan O’Gorman, Nancarrow had a composition chamber or ‘anechoic cavern’ where he spent most of the day working, since he was always an introverted artist, even though he had an important friendship and recognition of artists such as John Cage, in the mid-70s, and György Ligeti, who promoted his work internationally around 1981.

Of American origin, but nationalized Mexican in 1956, Nancarrow dedicated himself to exploring unprecedented sonic territory and forging one of the most original tracks with visionary music that experts like José Wolffer have defined as the sound of the future.

With this, the most relevant composer of the 20th century, who fought in the Spanish Civil War as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, turned to an instrument that was already in disuse, which offered him unique possibilities: the mechanical piano (also known, although the name is not exact, like pianola) ”.

Experts recall that his musical writing consisted of drilling rolls to be played or played on a pianola, which is why, in the words of his son, Mako Nancarrow, he became a Varèse or an underground Xenakis or an artist for artists. who was a visionary of sound and lover of Johann Sebastian Bach.

The house-study was built between 1948 and 1950 and is considered an invaluable piece, since it was the previous test of the Central Library of the UNAM, and the sister piece of the Casa Cueva de O’Gorman, located on San Jerónimo avenue, whose destruction was denounced by Ida Rodríguez Prampolini “and whose absence in the history of Mexican architecture holds a testimony of great value for understanding the creative evolution of our country.”

While Juan O’Gorman (1905-1982) was one of the most important Latin American architects of the 20th century, and the author of heritage works such as the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Study House and co-author of the Central Library of Ciudad Universitaria.

Sandoval announced that next Saturday it will be possible to chat with the members of the Espacio Nancarrow O’Gorman Foundation, made up of the artist Pedro Reyes, Mako Nancarrow, Xavier Guzmán Urbiola, Luis Rius Caso, researcher and specialist curator of Mexican modern art, and Adriana Sandoval, specialist in the work of Juan O’Gorman.

The artist Amor Muñoz will also participate, who has lived in the house for a year and will soon exhibit her most recent work at the MUCA of UNAM.

What is the situation in the house at the moment? He was asked. “The house is already in the process of being acquired (by) the foundation. I am happy because we are about to announce that the house is going to be acquired from donations we have received and it is also a call to call civil society, companies and people passionate about art who want to join forces to have the total cost of the house in a year and a half ”.

What will be the line of work in this house from 2021? “The first objective is to preserve it. That is the most important thing and in that case the foundation will certify said preservation. But also, the foundation is dedicated to the permanent dissemination and dissemination of the work of Nancarrow and Juan O’Gorman.

“In addition, we want to revitalize the space by summoning young artists and researchers who are working on subjects related to painting, architecture, sculpture and music, starting from the interdisciplinary and, in this sense, it will be a permanent exhibition space that can provide national residencies. and international and some concerts with reduced attendance and other activities related to dance and sculpture ”, he added.

The Nancarrow space “intends to open itself to people who have some serious research on the aforementioned disciplines or to people who are generating research around Nancarrow and Juan O’Gorman. An example is the case of Julio Estrada, founder of the Nancarrow chair at UNAM, who will be key and will have a space for reflection in this house. And I am also thinking that in the not too distant future we will speak with the Juan O’Gorman chair of the IPN or the UNAM ”.

How much has the space been restored? “Unlike other projects, this house has not needed a restoration because it is 85% of its originality and the modifications it had were minimal, thanks to the vision of Yoko Sugiura, widow of Nancarrow, who has dedicated herself to preserving it since the teacher passed away. That is why we believe that it will be a great opportunity to get to know the petromurales and the shapes of this house ”, he concluded.

The Nancarrow O’Gorman Study House, who have visited personalities such as the Japanese architect Toyo Ito (winner of the 2013 Pritzker Prize), is located at 46 Calzada de las Águilas, Colonia Alpes, in the Álvaro Obregón mayor’s office.

Conlon Nancarrow

  • The American musician became a Mexican national in 1956.
  • He explored unprecedented sonic territory that made him a visionary 20th century creator.
  • Nancarrow used the mechanical piano for his compositions.
  • His musical writing consisted of drilling rolls to be played on a player piano.

Juan O’Gorman

  • He was one of the most important Latin American architects of the 20th century.
  • Author of works such as the Dioego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Study House and co-author of the Central Library of Ciudad Universitaria.
  • The Nancarrow O’Gorman Study House had a composition chamber or anechoic cavern, specially designed for the musician to produce his work.