The Art of the Exposition

by david on 8 March 2015

Cover of "Art of the Exposition"

Dust jacket of “Art of the Exposition.” At the bottom is Eugen Neuhaus’s name spelled with pseudo-Latinate Vs instead of Us.

Eugen Neuhaus called his book The Art of the Exposition, but it might more accurately be titled The Art Critic Goes to the Fair. Neuhaus walks through the whole complex, giving us his impressions.

The following pages have grown out of many talks given during the year by Mr. Neuhaus to his students at the University of California. Presented to the public in the form of a series of evening lectures at the University, and repeated before many other organizations through California, his interpretation of the Art of the Exposition roused a demand for its repetition so widespread as only to be met by the aid of the printing press.

Frontispiece and title page of "Art of the Exposition"

Frontispiece and title page of “Art of the Exposition”

The book’s main sections are: Architecture, Sculpture, Color Scheme and the Landscape Gardening, Mural Decorations, and Illumination (i.e. lighting). While electricity was no longer a novelty, the PPIE’s buildings were elegantly lit at night with a huge number of electric lights:

The first half hour after the close of day, as enjoyed around the lagoon, with the Fine Arts Building in the background, reflected in the waters, will linger forever in the minds of all who are privileged to see it. Such blues I have seen only in pictures by Maxfield Parrish. Combined with the rich gold of the colonnade, they are almost supernatural. The whole effect, as relfected in the placid surface o the lagoon, occasionally broken here and there by a slowly moving waterfowl … is inspiring, and must awaken an aesthetic response in the soul of the most ordinary mortal.

Cover of "Art of the Exposition" (paper on boards)

Cover of “Art of the Exposition” (paper on boards)

The first four sections were covered in more detail, by other authors, in separate volumes from Elder: The Architecture & Landscape Gardening of the ExpositionThe Sculpture and Mural Decorations of the Exposition. Along with The Galleries of the Exposition, the four books make a nice set of identically bound PPIE books for your library.

Neuhaus saves his greatest disdain for the midway, or as it was called at the PPIE, “The Zone”:

[The Zone] is invaluable, however, as an object lesson in showing the fatal results of the utter disregard of all those fundamental laws of balance, harmony, and unity so uniformly and persistently applied through the seriously designed main body of the Exposition. There is no harmony whatever in the Zone anywhere, either in the form, style, or color, unless it be the harmony of ugliness which is carried through this riotous mêlée of flimsiness and sham.

Cover of "Art of the Exposition" (leather on boards)

Cover of “Art of the Exposition” (leather on boards)

Karl Eugen Neuhaus was born in Barmen (now Wuppertal), Germany on 18 September 1879. He studied at the Royal Art School in Kassel and the Berlin Royal Institute for Applied Arts, and came to San Francisco in 1904, where he setup a studio across the corridor from William Keith. After being burned out by the earthquake and fire in 1906, he lived in Monterey and helped found the Del Monte Art Gallery.

In 1908, Neuhaus became head of the Art department at University of California, Berkeley, a post he would hold for over forty years. At the PPIE he was Chairman of the Western Advisory Committee and was a member of the San Francisco Jury of the Department of Fine Arts; he exhibited six entries. He was a popular public speaker and wrote many books on art history. Neuhaus died in Berkeley, California on 29 October 1963.

This book, one of eleven published in 1915 by Elder on the PPIE, was very popular and went into a fourth printing (very unusual for an Elder). It was published in several bindings: beige paper on boards, buckram on boards, and leather on boards (see photos).

Cover of the Victor special issue, with a medallion of the Victor Palace at center

Cover of the Victor special issue, with a medallion of the Victor Palace at center

In addition, there was a special issue of Art of the Exposition from the Victor Talking Machine Company (famous for the dog Nipper and the slogan “His Master’s Voice”), consisting of a modified cover and a sixteen-page insert opposite page 1. The insert commemorates a meeting of the National Association of Talking Machine Jobbers and guests of the Victor Talking Machine Company, held on Saturday 24 July 1915 at the Victor Temple at the PPIE, then the next day at Muir Woods on Mt Tamalpais.

First page of the 16-page insert in the Victor special issue.

First page of the 16-page insert in the Victor special issue.





Catalog Deluxe PPIE vol1 vol2 spines

The vellum spines of the two volumes.

One hundred years ago today, on 20 February 1915, San Francisco opened its doors to the world. The sparkling Panama-Pacific International Exposition was laid out on 625 acres on the northern shore of San Francisco, what is now the Marina district. Officially, the Exposition celebrated the recent opening of the Panama Canal, but everyone knew that it was really San Francisco’s way of showing that it had recovered from the catastrophic 1906 earthquake and fire.

Some fairs call their grand buildings ‘pavilions,’ but at the PPIE they were called ‘palaces.’ There was a Palace of Agriculture, a Palace of Liberal Arts, a Palace of Transportation, a Palace of Mines and Metallurgy, and several other palaces, including, of course, architect Bernard Maybeck’s masterpiece (and one of the few surviving relics of the PPIE), the Palace of Fine Arts.

Catalog Deluxe vol1 title

Title page of volume one

Paul Elder’s strategy was to capitalize on the fair for all it was worth. First, Elder hired Maybeck to design a booth for him in the Palace of Industry. Elder was a repeat customer: Maybeck had designed both Elder’s 1906 bookstore on Van Ness and the 1909 store on Grant.

Second, Elder had ready ‘in the can’ a dozen new titles specifically related to the PPIE. Most of them sold well, and several went into multiple printings.

The grandest and most elegant of those titles was the Catalog Deluxe of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a two-volume limited edition of 1000 copies with vellum spines and copious photographs. The Catalog Deluxe contains a complete listing of everything that was displayed in the Palace of Fine Arts, along with where they could be found for viewing. There is not much text for reading; most is in Volume I in the form of profiles of genres and famous artists.

Title page of volume two

Title page of volume two

John Ellingwood Donnell Trask (1871–16 Apr 1926) was Chief of the Department of Fine Arts at the PPIE. Previously he had been Secretary and Manager of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1905–1913), the United States Commissioner General to the Exposicion Internacional de Arte del Centenario at Buenos Aires, Argentina, and to the Exposicion Internacional de Bellas Artes at Santiago, Chile, as well as to a special art exhibition at Montevideo. He also wrote a short poem printed on the frontispiece tissue guard of Bernard Maybeck’s Palace of Fine Arts and Lagoon.

John Nilsen Laurvik (b. 1877) was…

Cover of volume one

Cover of volume one

Frontispiece of volume one

Frontispiece of volume one

Frontispiece of volume two

Frontispiece of volume two

Page vii of volume one (Preface)

Page vii of volume one (Prefatory Note)

Page xv of volume one

Page xv of volume one (introduction)

Page 3 of volume one

Page 3 of volume one (American Portrait and Figure Painters)

Page 39 of volume one (essay on John Singer Sargent)

Page 39 of volume one (essay on John Singer Sargent)

Page 61 of volume one (essay on Prints)

Page 61 of volume one (essay on Prints and Their Makers)

Limitation page (in volume one), along with Paul Elder's card. This was Elder's own copy of the Catalog.

Limitation page (in volume one), along with Paul Elder’s card. This was Elder’s own copy of the Catalog.


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