Between World War I and II, an influential art movement thrived in Hawai'i-artists and commercial illustrators created a romanticized interpretation of Hawaiian culture filtered through the streamlined international Art Deco style. From Arman Manookian's captivating crayon-colored modernist canvases portraying a lush, primitive paradise, to tourism brochures urging winter-bound Americans to spend “Winter in Hawaii” with an illustration of a Jazz Age gal riding a stylized Waikiki wave, Hawaiian Art Deco defined the islands' fantastical, semi-fictional tourist-destination image that endures to this day.
Art Deco Hawai'i is the first major museum show to focus on the Hawaiian take on Art Deco. This accompanying catalogue is a chance for readers to discover this richly vibrant time in the history of Hawai'i's culture.
The artwork in these pages-paintings, sculpture, works on paper, as well as commercial ephemera-cast Hawai'i artists in a new light, showing their work as not watered-down versions of avant-garde art, as it has been considered in the past, but brilliant regional adaptations that highlight the islands' sense of place.
Included in this book are paintings and sculpture by such artists as Don Blanding, Marguerite Blasingame, Robert Lee Eskridge, Isamu Noguchi, Agnes Lawrence Pelton, Gene Pressler, Lloyd Sexton, and Madge Tennent, and, at the center of them all, the six-mural cycle that Eugene Savage created for Matson in 1940.
About the authors
Theresa Papanikolas is the Curator of European and American Art at the Honolulu Museum of Art. She received her BA in Art History from the University of Southern California, and her MA and PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware. Prior to joining the Honolulu Museum of Art, Papanikolas was the Wallis Annenberg Curatorial Fellow at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and she has held curatorial and academic positions at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and Rice University. At the Honolulu Museum of Art, the exhibitions she has curated include Art Deco Hawai'i, Georgia O'Keeffe and Ansel Adams: The Hawai'i Pictures, and Whistler to Warhol: Modernism on Paper.
DeSoto Brown is Historian at the archives at Bishop Museum and a lifelong collector and scholar of the art and material culture of Hawai'i. His lengthy publication record includes Surfing: Historic Images from the Bishop Museum Archives and Hawaii Recalls: Selling Romance to America-Nostalgic Images of the Hawaiian Islands, 1910-1945.