Jewel City: Art from the Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Sep 30, 2015

Painting of Palace of Fine Arts and surrounding structures in San Francisco.

Edwin Deakin, Palace of Fine Arts and the Lagoon, ca. 1915. Oil on canvas. Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, long-term loan from the California Department of Finance.

de Young \ October 17, 2015‒January 10, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO—The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are pleased to present Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition, on view at the de Young from October 17, 2015, through January 10, 2016. Celebrating the centennial of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) in San Francisco, this exhibition revisits a vital moment in the inauguration of the city as a cultural center on the West Coast.

The PPIE was a world’s fair hosted by San Francisco to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and also served to promote the city’s recovery following the 1906 earthquake. At the heart of the PPIE was one of the most ambitious art exhibitions ever presented in the United States. It included a comprehensive survey of American painting, sculpture and printmaking as well as European works drawn from international public and private collections.

“The curatorial team has spent more than three years assembling this ambitious exhibition that recreates highlights of the original Exposition of 1915,” said James Ganz, curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and lead curator of Jewel City. “Our efforts to identify and locate actual works of art shown in the PPIE have led from our own storerooms to holdings as far away as Budapest, Hungary. In a way, we are following in the footsteps of the original organizers as we bring back to San Francisco a compelling array of significant works by American and European artists last seen together here a century ago.”

Jewel City will present a series of galleries devoted to the main artistic venues of the fair—the Palace of Fine Arts and the Fine Arts Annex—as well as the French Pavilion, bringing together more than 200 paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs by major American and European artists that were among the works on view at the PPIE, which numbered an estimated 20,000. Jewel City features works from more than 70 international lenders as well as works drawn extensively from the Museums’ own permanent collections. These artworks have not been seen together in the 100 years since the PPIE was held, and they may never be reunited in an exhibition again.

Among the featured paintings will be Winslow Homer’s Saco Bay (1896), a dramatic seascape set near the artist’s home at Prouts Neck, Maine, as well as The Sketchers (1913) by John Singer Sargent, a painting of artists working en plein air. Jewel City will also display etchings by James McNeill Whistler and John Sloan, in addition to photographs by Ansel Adams, Paul Strand, Edward Weston and Imogen Cunningham.

Joining these highlights of American art will be French works such as Claude Monet’s Rouen Cathedral Facade (1892), one of a number of paintings on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. The French Pavilion at the PPIE—which would later inspire the construction of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor—was housed in a building modeled on the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, who would be the force behind the creation of San Francisco’s Legion of Honor, was the most important American lender to the French Pavilion. The Age of Bronze (ca. 1875–1877) by Auguste Rodin, whose work has become a celebrated part of the permanent collection at the Legion of Honor, will also be on view.

Additional avant-garde works from other European nations, which shocked visitors to the Fine Arts Annex in 1915, are also featured in Jewel City, including examples of Hungarian modernism, Austrian Expressionism and Italian Futurism. Six major Italian Futurist works, including paintings by Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini, and Luigi Russolo, reveal the movement’s obsession with mechanization, light, electricity and progress—all major themes of the PPIE as well.

Prints at the Fair
Thousands of prints were displayed throughout the Palace of Fine Arts and its Annex at the PPIE, many in spaces devoted entirely to works on paper. As part of Jewel City, a satellite exhibition, Prints at the Fair, will feature approximately seventy-five such works, including etchings, woodcuts and lithographs, in a thematic display that shows the various preoccupations of American artists in the early twentieth century.

William de Leftwich Dodge’s Atlantic and Pacific
In July 2015, William de Leftwich Dodge’s mural Atlantic and Pacific was installed in Wilsey Court in preparation for Jewel City. The mural was commissioned for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and was originally installed in an archway beneath the Tower of Jewels, the fair’s architectural centerpiece. Before going on view at the de Young, the canvas had been kept rolled up in storage for nearly 100 years. \ #JewelCity \ @deyoungmuseum

Related Exhibition \ Portals of the Past: The Photographs of Willard Worden
This exhibition presents a survey of a fascinating though largely forgotten figure in the Bay Area’s rich photographic history, Willard Worden (American, 1868–1946). Worden was at the height of his career at the time of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. As one of the exposition’s official photographers, he captured its spectacular architectural and sculptural creations by day and night.

Visiting \ de Young
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco
Open 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m. Tuesdays–Sundays; 9:30 a.m.–8:45 p.m. Fridays (April 17–November 27); open select holidays; closed most Mondays.

Information on purchasing tickets, groups of 15 or more, and membership.

Exhibition Catalogue
A scholarly catalogue accompanies this exhibition with essays by James Ganz and 12 additional contributors, who examine the PPIE’s art program in depth. Featuring approximately 300 illustrations, it is the first publication to focus specifically on the fair’s art exhibitions. Hardcover and softcover, 400 pages. Purchase here.

Exhibition Organization
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. President’s Circle: Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund. Benefactor’s Circle: National Endowment for the Arts. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, is the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. Thirty years later, it was renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, a longtime champion of the museum. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It showcases the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international modern and contemporary art.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion, modeled on the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. The museum opened in 1924 in a neoclassical building designed by George Applegarth on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate. Its holdings span 4,000 years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

Media Contacts
Erin Garcia \ \ 415.750.8904

Miriam Newcomer \ \ 415.750.3554