Pacific Arcadia: Images of California, 1600-1915

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Since the arrival of the Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century, California has been thought of as a land of promise and opportunity. This lavishly illustrated catalog, which is to accompany a major exhibit opening in April 1999 at Stanford's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts and traveling subsequently to two other museums, presents a fascinating cultural history of an idyllic vision of California that still figures prominently in the American imagination. Brought together in one show for the ...
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Overview


Since the arrival of the Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century, California has been thought of as a land of promise and opportunity. This lavishly illustrated catalog, which is to accompany a major exhibit opening in April 1999 at Stanford's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts and traveling subsequently to two other museums, presents a fascinating cultural history of an idyllic vision of California that still figures prominently in the American imagination. Brought together in one show for the first time, this combination of art is unique in its range from high art to popular representations. Currier and Ives lithographs and the work of early European cartographers are juxtaposed with photographs by Carleton E. Watkins, Arnold Genthe, and Eadweard Muybridge, and paintings by Albert Bierstadt, James Walker, and William Hahn, among others. With one hundred and fifty plates--sixty in full color--Pacific Arcadia illuminates the imagery of the California Dream.
Perry investigates how and why this vision of a Pacific paradise was developed and marketed to the public, taking as her subject the images produced by early visitors and residents confronted by the peculiarities of California's landscape, the abundance of its natural resources, and the omnipresence of the vast Pacific. Using paintings, drawings, maps, photographs, newspaper and book illustrations, and printed ephemera dating from the seventeenth century to 1915, Pacific Arcadia examines the ways these images represented California as a place where economic bliss could be attained in a spectacular natural setting.
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Editorial Reviews

Douglas F. Smith
The book, which is the first of its kind, is both breathtaking and frustrating....this is nonetheless a unique contribution to the history of an immensely important region.
Library Journal
Library Journal
Because of the beauty and variety of its physical geography and climate, California would probably have become a region dominated by powerful mythology even without the Gold Rush, Hollywood, or oranges. The Golden State has nurtured "California dreams" for three centuries through potent images, from explorers' maps, advertisements, wilderness photography, paintings, and, of course, the movies. In this companion to an exhibit at Stanford's Cantor Center for Visual Arts, curator Perry chronicles the iconography of early California. The book, which is the first of its kind, is both breathtaking and frustrating: for example, by ending her study with the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, Perry curiously (and perhaps conveniently) avoids having to consider the massive impact of the motion picture industry on the visual history of "California dreamin'." Written in accessible but at times plodding, self-conscious, and understated prose, this is nonetheless a unique contribution to the history of an immensely important region. Highly recommended for all large public and academic libraries.--Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L., CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195109375
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 4/29/1999
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Claire Perry is curator of American art at the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University. She specializes in the cultural history of nineteenth-century America.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 A Terrestrial Paradise 3
2 The Golden Dream 27
3 Cornucopia of the World 61
4 Rush for the Wilderness 99
5 Spanish Arcadia 135
6 Urban Visions 163
Epilogue 199
Notes 201
Selected Bibliography 215
Index 230
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