Jewel City: Art from San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition

400 pages
October 2015
University of California Press

Approx. 350 images


One hundred years ago, San Francisco hosted a spectacular world’s fair. The 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) drew millions of visitors, and its attractions included the most comprehensive art exhibition ever mounted on the West Coast. A century later, masterpieces representing a significant array of art shown at the PPIE, from Impressionism to Futurism, are reunited in this gorgeous and definitive catalogue.

More than eleven thousand works of art were exhibited in the PPIE’s main art venues, while thousands more could be seen in national pavilions and throughout the exhibition grounds. Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition is the first publication to examine the art program of the fair, and it features the diverse paintings, sculptures, photographs, and prints that greeted an enthusiastic public in 1915.

The volume’s thirteen authors explore the prevailing themes of the PPIE’s art program, which reflected aesthetic sensibilities ranging from the classically beautiful to the shockingly modern. In addition to major displays of paintings by prominent Americans, especially those working in the Impressionist style, the Exposition included the first presentations in the United States of Italian Futurism, Austrian Expressionism, and Hungarian avant-garde painting. Jewel City further surveys the sculpture, murals, and architecture of the fairgrounds and the complications of mounting an exhibition of international art amid the confusion of World War I.

The PPIE promoted many of the period’s contemporary artistic trends to a mass American audience and helped to establish San Francisco as the center of artistic vitality on the West Coast. Filled with lavish reproductions and historical photographs—some being published for the first time—Jewel City is indispensable for understanding the role played by the United States and California in the reception of modernism, as well as the Bay Area’s significant place on the international art stage.


James A. Ganz is curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. His recent publications include Rembrandt’s Century and Impressionist Paris: City of Light. Ganz also contributed to Anders Zorn: Sweden’s Master Painter.

Emma Acker is assistant curator of American art at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Acker has contributed to numerous exhibition catalogues, including Matter + Spirit: Stephen De Staebler and Richard Diebenkorn: The Berkeley Years, 1953–1966.

Laura Ackley is the author of San Francisco’s Jewel City: the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. An independent researcher and historian in San Francisco, Ackley has lectured extensively for more than ten years on various aspects of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Heidi Applegate is an independent art historian based in Washington, DC. Her dissertation at Columbia University was titled “Staging Modernism at the 1915 World’s Fair.”

Gergely Barki, a curator at the Institute of Art History, Budapest, is an expert on Hungarian modernism and the Hungarian presence at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. His recent publications include Dialogue among Fauves: Hungarian Fauvism 1904–1914.

Karin Breuer is curator in charge of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Her recent publications include An American Focus: The Anderson Graphic Arts Collection and Japanesque: The Japanese Print in the Era of Impressionism.

Melissa E. Buron is associate curator of European paintings at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Buron has contributed to numerous publications, including Girl with a Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis and Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay.

Martin Chapman is curator in charge of European decorative arts and sculpture at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. His recent publications include The Salon Doré from the Hôtel de La Trémoille and Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette.

Renée Dreyfus, curator in charge of ancient art and interpretation at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, has organized more than twenty exhibitions, including Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs and Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh.

Victoria Kastner, a historian at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California, is the author of three books on Hearst Castle, most recently Hearst Ranch: Family, Land, and Legacy. She is also co-author of such books as The Beverly Hills Hotel: The First 100 Years.

Anthony W. Lee is Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History, Mount Holyoke College, and the author or editor of eight books, including Painting on the Left: Diego Rivera, Radical Politics, and San Francisco’s Public Murals (1999), in which he wrote on the murals of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Scott A. Shields is associate director and chief curator at the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento. He has written or contributed to numerous publications, including David Ligare: California Classicist, Armin Hansen: Artist and Mariner, and A Touch of Blue: Landscapes by Gregory Kondos.

Colleen Terry is assistant curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She is the author of Artful Animals and a contributor to Claude Lorrain: The Painter as Draftsman.

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