Saturday, October 17, 2015

Welcome back to San Francisco

Stable at Cuenca, John Singer Sargent

It’s been a busy year for history buffs in the Bay Area.  2015 marks the 100th Anniversary of San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE).  There is the ongoing exhibit at the Palace of Fine Arts. City Rising at the California Historical Society is not to be missed.  Pacific Worlds at the Oakland Museum of California connects the Bay Area to Pacific Island Nations and highlights their role in the PPIE.  The San Francisco History Expo this year at the old Mint on 5th Street was heavily focused on the PPIE (and was great).  Now it’s the de Young’s turn.

Last night I visited the de Young for the member’s preview of Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition.   The de Young has installed a collection of art that was originally displayed in San Francisco in 1915.  It’s been an amazing effort to bring back art from all over the world for this exhibit.  It is an opportunity to see work in person that would require you to do a lot of travelling otherwise.  Some of it is still in the hands of private collectors.   There are a number of important pieces on loan from the Musée d’Orsay but paintings are borrowed from all over, museums like Rochester, Portland and Buffalo just to name a few.  And there is work that has ended up in the Smithsonian like the John Singer Sargent shown above.

As much as I thought I knew about of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, I did not realize just how much art was originally shown.  In 1915 there were over 11,000 pieces including paintings, prints, sculpture and photography.  And of course things never change – California artists had to fight to get their work shown unless they had been validated by the New Yorkeratti – even back in 1915.

This show is up until January 17, 2016 and it’s the sort of show that I will need to return to many times. 

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