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- The Art of the Exposition - 2/15 -


the buildings of the various States of the Union and of Foreign Nations on the western side of the Fine Arts Palace, while at the other extremity of the main group, screened by Machinery Hall, is the amusement section, officially labeled "The Zone."

I do not suspect that the Zone is intended to give any artistic thrills. If so, I would propose to call it "The Limit," and so I drop it as a subject for further artistic, reference. It 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. I cannot help but feel that this hodgepodge will convince the most doubting Thomas who might believe in the mob rule of hundreds of conflicting tastes. The Zone is not an improvement on similar things in former Expositions. Save for certain minor exceptions at the entrance, it will serve as a wonderfully effective illustration of the taste of the great masses of the people, and as a fine business investment.

So far, we have moved only along the east and west axis of the Exposition. The north and south development is not without its charm. The terraced city of San Francisco, on the south, without a doubt looks best on a densely foggy day. With its fussy, incongruous buildings - I hesitate to call them architecture - it serves hardly as a background for anything, let alone a group of monumental buildings. The opposite side, where nature reigns, atones for multitudes of sins that man committed on the city's hills. But how great an opportunity there was lost! There are, however, some indications at the western end of Broadway that give fine promise for the future.

The bay and its background of rising hills and blue mountain sides provide, the wonderful setting that so charmingly holds the Exposition. The general arrangement of the Exposition pays its respects to the bay at every possible angle. The vistas from the three courts towards the bay are the pièces de résistance of the whole thing. It was a fine idea, not alone from an economic point of view, to eliminate the two arches which appeared in the original plan at the end of the avenues running north from the Court of the Four Seasons and the Court of Abundance. There is hardly anything more inspiring than to stand in any of the three courts and to look north through those well proportioned colonnades over the blue bay towards the purple foothills of Marin County, crowned by the graceful slopes of Mount Tamalpais on one side and the many islands of the bay on the other. It is surprising into how many enchanting vistas the whole arrangement resolves itself. For the city-planner the Exposition contains a wonderful lesson. What fine cities we might have if some artistic control could be exercised over the buildings which are to stand opposite the junction of one street with another, not only at right angles, but also at lesser degrees - for instance, in all cases of streets running into Market street from the northwest.

To point out some particularly fine vistas, among many, we should mention that from the Orchestral Niche in the Court of the Four Seasons, looking toward the bay, or from the same court toward the Fine Arts Palace - and many more. The natural background seems to have been considered always, even in the arrangements of the smallest apertures. One should not overlook the two open courts which run off the main avenue, like charming coves in an island, into the main group of buildings, connecting at their ends with the Court of the Four Seasons at the west and the Court of Abundance toward the east. These two, the Court of Palms and the Court of Flowers, have not so much the charm of seclusion of the more centrally located courts, but their architecture makes them of great interest.

As to the style of the architecture of the main group of eight buildings, it has been called classic. If one means by that something excellent, something in good taste, we must admit that it is classic indeed. However, on closer examination it becomes very evident that the individuality of many men has found expression in the architectural structural forms, as well as in the minor and decorative forms.

The main Tower of Jewels, by Carrère and Hastings, marking the center of the whole scheme, has a distinct character of its own. There is no doubt that it is effective, but while its chief merit lies in its colossal proportions and its relative position, I feel that it lacks that oneness of conception that characterizes almost every other architectural unit in the Exposition. One feels too much the stacking up of story after story, that effort to fill the requirements of a given great height, very much as a boy sets up blocks of diminishing size, one on top of the other, until he can go no further because there are no smaller blocks. The whole effect of the tower is too static. Of its architectural motives, almost too many seem devoid of much interest, and like the column motive, repeated too often. The very effective and decorative employment of "jewels" tends to loosen up and enliven the structure very much. On a sunny day the effect is dazzling and joyous. The tower has a feeling of dignity and grandeur, commensurate with its scale and setting. However, its great height is not apparent, owing largely to its breadth of base. The Sather Campanile in Berkeley looks higher, though it is actually one hundred and thirty-three feet lower. The side towers at the entrances of the Court of Palms and the Court of Flowers, while not so imaginative as the main tower, are far more sky-reaching. As towers go, John Galen Howard's tower at the Buffalo Exposition in 1901 stands unsurpassed in every way as an Exposition tower.

The main Court of Honor, or Court of the Universe, as it is also called, designed by McKim, Mead and White, impresses by its tremendous dimensions, which operate somewhat against its proper enjoyment. I believe that the court is too large - so many things are lost in it, and it does not convey the quality of shelter that the two lesser courts possess in such marked degree. The Court of the Universe will never be the resting place of the masses of the people, in spite of the recently added attraction of the band stand, a mixture of Roman and Arabic architecture out of keeping with the surroundings. The conventional architectural motives of this great court do not help very much in tempting one to stay, and if it were not for the great arches on the east and west and the very fine view toward the Column of Progress, I would feel tempted to classify it as a piece of architectural design of the stereotyped variety. It has all the great qualities and faults of the court in front of St. Peter's in Rome. There is too little play of landscape gardening in and near the Court of the Universe, a condition which will remedy itself with the breaking into bloom of the great masses of rhododendron which have been installed in the sunken garden in the center.

Like all careful interpretations in the classic architectural traditions, the Court of the Universe has a great feeling of dignity and grandeur, which gives the visitor a feeling of the big scale of the rest of the architecture. The court lacks, however, the individual note of the two side courts.

Toward the west, passing through a very characteristic avenue, in the style of the happiest phases of the Italian Renaissance to be found in Florence, one enters the Court of the Four Seasons, by Henry Bacon of New York. The chief quality of this court is that of intimacy. While by no means so original as the Court of Abundance, it has a charm all of its own, in spite of its conventional architectural characteristics, which are really not different from those of the main Court of Honor. However, a very happy combination of gardening effects and architecture, together with the interesting wall-fountains, screened by stately rows of columns, make for a picture of great loveliness. Of all the courts, it has the most inviting feeling of seclusion. The plain body of water in the center, without statuary of any kind, is most effective as a mirror reflecting the play of lights and shadows, which are so important an asset in this enchanting retreat. During the Exposition it will serve as a recreation center for many people who will linger in the seclusion of the groups of shrubbery and watch the shadows of the afternoon sun creep slowly up the surrounding walls.

As an Exposition feature, the Court of the Four Seasons is a decided innovation. At St. Louis, for instance, in 1904, everything seemed to have been done to excite, to overstimulate, to develop a craving for something new, to make one look for the next thing. Here, in the Court of the Four Seasons, one wants to stay. Most emphatically one wants to rest for awhile and give one's self over entirely to that feeling of liberation that one experiences in a church, in the forest, or out on the ocean. I could stay in this court forever. To wander into this Court of the Four Seasons from any one of the many approaches is equally satisfactory, and it will prove a very popular and successful Exposition innovation.

Speaking of the courts, one is bound to yield to the individual note of Louis Mullgardt's Court of Abundance, on the east of the Court of the Universe. Of all the courts it has, without a doubt, the strongest individual note. It seems on first acquaintance to be reminiscent of the Gothic, of which it has, no doubt, the quality of lightness, the laciness, and the play of many fine apertures and openings. It has, however, neither the Gothic arch nor the buttresses of that period, and so far as its ground plan goes, it is thoroughly original. It looks as if carved out of a solid block of stone. This monolithic quality is particularly well brought out in the tower on the north. While not quite so intimate as the Court of the Four Seasons, it conveys, a feeling of shelter and seclusion very well by showing an uninterrupted wall motive on all sides. The sculpture symbolism of this court is particularly fine. We shall return to it in a consideration of sculpture.

The two minor courts by George Kelham are particularly fortunate in their open location toward the south. Their sheltered and warm atmosphere is quite in keeping with the suggestion of Spanish Renaissance which has been employed in the constructive and in the many decorative motives. The western court, or Court of Palms, is made particularly attractive by a sunken garden effect and pool. The effect of the Court of Flowers is similar in every way to its mate on the east.

A consideration of these two courts, with their towers, leads easily into a study of the outer façade, which, so to speak, ties all of the eight Palaces together into a compact, snug arrangement, so typical of the Exposition.

Bliss and Faville of San Francisco are responsible for the very skillful use of simple, plain surfaces, accentuated and relieved here and there by ornate doorways, wall-fountains, niches, and half-domes. On the south, along the Avenue of Palms, are found some very fine adaptations of old Spanish doorways, which deserve to be preserved. It is regrettable that we have no large museum on the coast where these fine doorways in the outer walls of the Palace of Varied Industries could be preserved permanently. The travertine marble has nowhere been used more effectively than in just such details. The entrance of the Palace of Education at the western end of the south façade is also of great beauty of design.

On the western end two huge niches or half domes command attention by their noble beauty and fine setting amidst great clumps of eucalyptus. On the north, no special effort has been made. There is, however, a decorative emphasis of the doorways along the entire front. On the east, facing the Palace of Machinery, some very fine doorways, very much like some of the minor ones on the south, furnish the decoration. It was no small task to bridge the many diversified architectural motives which penetrate into the outer wall from within, in the shape of many avenues


The Art of the Exposition - 2/15

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