The Cenart Commends the Legacy of Set Designer Antonio López Mancera

The Cenart Commends the Legacy of Set Designer Antonio López Mancera

Antonio López Mancera, a graduate from the initial class of the newly established National School of Theater Art (1924-1994), began his career as a set designer during a period of considerable stage production by the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature.

In honor of the centenary of his birth, the National Center for the Arts (Cenart) is organizing two exhibitions to showcase his legacy. These exhibitions are an initiative of the Library of the Arts, which manages the Antonio López Mancera Reserved Fund. Throughout his four-decade career, Mancera made significant contributions to theater, dance, and opera.

The first exhibition, titled It all starts with a doodle, primarily showcases sketches that Mancera created for costumes and sets, as well as his photography. The director of the Arts Library, Armando González Rangel, states that a selection has been made from some of the most outstanding productions of his fruitful career. These include Boris Goudonoff, Aida, The Baker’s Dawn, The Chueco, King Lear, and The life is dream, among approximately 20 other works.

The second exhibition, called The no place, is an immersive interactive project centered around Mancera’s work for the staging of Ludwig van Beethoven’s original work, Fidelio. This exhibition includes design, set design, lighting, costume work, and original models, as explained by Marcia Salas, deputy director of Documentary Organization.

Since its inception in 1994, the Arts Library has been home to the Antonio López Mancera Reserved Fund. The collection was originally donated to the Rodolfo Usigli Theater Research Center.

The National School of Theater Art was established on July 15, 1946. It was there that Mancera met the painter and set designer Julio Prieto, with whom he collaborated for a decade. During this period, he gained knowledge that he would “develop and polish,” according to Salas. Prieto (1912-1977) started his career as a set designer in 1935, when the poet and writer Miguel N. Lira asked him to create his first work for the play Return to earth, which was presented at the Arbeu theater. Mancera was also an artist.

Marcia Salas describes the “fluidity” in design as one of the defining characteristics of López Mancera’s work. This means designing a costume that flows with the movements of the dancer or actor and harmonizes with the set. Salas explains: “Sometimes they put together ones that did not go hand in hand with the staging or the script. In the interviews conducted with López Mancera, he mentions that one of the reasons why artists sought him out, especially in dance, was due to the combination he made between set design, costumes, and script.”

The first staging that Mancera undertook was for the dance work The Baker’s Dawn, Suite a ballet composed by Rodolfo Halffter. His first theater staging was Rosalba and the keychains, a prima opera by Emilio Carballido.

In the 80s, Mancera served as the director of the Cervantino International Festival. However, the two exhibitions aim to focus on his work as a set designer, rather than as a cultural promoter. This is particularly relevant as it relates to the Reserved Fund, Salas notes.

The exhibition It all starts with a doodle is open to the public from last Thursday until March 24 in the lobby of the Arts Library. The second exhibition, The non-place, will be open from March 6 to April 7 in the Manuel Felguérez Electronic Art Gallery of the Multimedia Center.

On March 6, at 11 a.m., a discussion titled Antonio López Mancera’s time: 100 years, featuring specialists Silvia Ramírez, Socorro Merlín, Jovita Millán, Cristina Sausa and René Durón Espino, will take place in the multipurpose room of the Arts Library. The National Center of the Arts is located at Río Churubusco 79, Country Club.