OF PRINCES AND PAUPERS, SUICIDES AND ASSASSINATIONS: A WOLFSONIAN REFLECTION ON THE CROWN PRINCES OF EUROPE AND THE OUTBREAK OF WWI

•July 2, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This past Saturday marked the 100 year anniversary of the assassination in Sarajevo of the Archduke and heir apparent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914).

July 201472779

The archduke and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg (1868-1914), were visiting the Austrian provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina to celebrate the opening of a hospital under tight security, given a failed assassination attempt made in 1911 against the archduke’s uncle, Emperor Franz Joseph (1830-1916) by shadowy Serbian terrorists, known as the Black Hand.

XB1992.1236.1_000[1]

The royal couple had already survived an assassination attempt earlier in the day, when one of six conspirators recruited by the Black Hand threw a bomb at the royal motorcade. The hand grenade detonated too late to harm the royal couple but did seriously wound two occupants of the fourth car in the motorcade and nearly a dozen spectators.

July 201472780

July 201472781

Ironically, the archduke’s decision to visit the bomb victims at the Sarajevo Hospital proved fatal when his driver made a wrong turn down Franz Josef Street, and the car stalled in the vicinity of a second conspirator, Gavrilo Princip. Born in Bosnia in 1894 to Serbian Christian peasants who were unable to support their children from their tiny acreage, by 1911 young Princip had fallen under the influence of and had joined the radical “Young Bosnia” movement advocating separation from Austria-Hungary and unification with the Kingdom of Serbia. Princip had been expelled from school the following year for aggressively participating in demonstrations against the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

XB1992.105[1]

Nineteen-year-old Princip approached the car and from a distance of five feet fired two shots that fatally wounded the royal couple. After a failed suicide attempt, Princip was apprehended, tried, and sentenced to twenty years imprisonment, though the harsh prison conditions claimed his life in April 1918. The assassination, and Austria’s demands for severe retribution in a July ultimatum to the Kingdom of Serbia, unleashed a conflict that, because of a host of entangling alliances, pulled all of the great powers of Europe into the Great War and ultimately resulted in the death of 16,000,000 civilians and military personnel, and another 20,000,000 wounded by the war’s end in 1918.

XB1992.1408.1_032[1]

After the war’s end, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and the Central Powers who lost the war were judged “guilty” of provoking the bloody conflict.

XB1992.1408.2_064[1]

While democratically elected heads of state in Europe are today perhaps no more immune to assassination plots, in an age when monarchies predominated, the private lives (and fates) of crown princes and other heirs apparent could be critically important to a smooth succession and transfer of power from one generation to the next. While the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand is universally remembered as the trigger for one of the most bloody conflicts of the twentieth century and the end of the “old order” in Europe, the earlier suicide of Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, Hungary, and Bohemia (1858-1889) made headlines at the time, but has mostly been sidelined to the footnotes of history by contemporary historians.

XC2006.12.6.1.000

Rudolf’s marriage to Princess Stéphanie of Belgium (1864-1945) was not a particularly happy one, and the heir to the dual monarchy took solace in drink and affairs, as his father would not permit him to divorce or seek an annulment. When in 1889 the Emperor demanded that his son and heir end his scandalous affair with the 17-year-old Baroness, Marie Vetsera (1871-1889), the unhappy couple concluded a suicide pact, killing themselves in a royal hunting lodge. In the wake of the Crown Prince’s death by suicide, the aged Emperor’s nephew, Franz Ferdinand became the presumptive heir to the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, until the pauper Princip’s steady aim in Serajevo took the life of the Archduke and his wife.

July 201472778

Once the war came, it was Kaiser Wilhelm II’s eldest son, Wilhelm, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Empire of Germany (1882-1951) who was singled out for “character assassination.” Not unlike the strained relations between the Austrian Emperor and his son and nephew, the German Kaiser (1859-1941) also held his son in contempt, both on account of political differences, and because of the heir’s numerous and poorly concealed affairs both before and after his arranged marriage to Duchess Cecilie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1886-1954). The Crown Prince was only 32 when the war broke out and despite having never commanded more than a regiment, he was first given command of the entire Fifth Army and in 1915 was made commander of Army Group German Crown Prince until the war’s end.

XB1990.1702.002

Although only flattering images of the Crown Prince were published in Germany, his private affairs and competence as a war leader were publicly called into question by “neutral” and Allied propagandists.

XB1992.1408.1_027[1]

A humorous folding postcard from the war years pictured the Crown Prince “playboy” as a voyeur and swinish “Peeping Tom.”

XC2014.01.2.5_000

XC2014.01.2.5_001[1]

XC2014.01.2.5_002[1]

GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

A number of scathing editorial cartoons penned by Dutch painter and illustrator Louis Raemaekers (1869-1956) portrayed the Crown Prince as an immature, bumbling, incompetent commander, leading his armies to senseless slaughter.

XX1990.1837_055[1]

XB1992.1408.2_074[1]

XB1992.1408.2_059[1]

XB1992.1408.2_061[1]

Ironically, as early as November 1914, in his first foreign press interview after the outbreak, the German Crown Prince had described the conflict as “…the most stupid, senseless and unnecessary war of modern times.”

WC2012.04.8.4.25_000[1]

He further argued that the war had not been “wanted by Germany,” even though “the fact that we were so effectually prepared to defend ourselves is now being used as an argument to convince the world that we desired conflict.”

TD1990.105.3_001[1]

Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away, or, What I Did on My Summer Leave from The Wolfsonian-FIU Library

•June 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Today’s post comes to you courtesy of Sharf Associate Librarian Rochelle Pienn. Ms. Pienn works exclusively with the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf holdings here at The Wolfsonian-FIU, a collection that documents many of the colonial projects in North Africa, the Middle East and the Orient, as well as the important conflicts of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Sharf collection includes many rare photographs and photographic albums, and this summer Ms. Pienn applied for a course being offered by the Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia that focuses on properly identifying prints. We are extremely grateful to the Sharfs for donating so many unique visual documents to the collection, for their continued generosity in funding the Sharf Associate librarian position, and to Florida International University for providing Rochelle with this professional development opportunity. Here is here report:

The Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library contains thousands of original photographs dating from the mid-1800s to just before the Second World War. Part of the privilege of processing the Sharf collection includes immersing myself in the close examination and identification of these antique prints from all over the world, made by both amateur and professional photographers. Sometimes I’m confronted by a small box of faded, yellowing images with illegible captions; other times I carefully leaf through an exquisitely bound album with expertly tipped in, glossy oversized prints with lovingly handwritten, detailed descriptions.

XC2011.08.2.140_037XC2011.08.2.140_037
PICNIC FROM GOVT. HOUSE, DARJILING – LT. GOVERNOR SIR RIVERS AND LADY THOMPSON
FROM: BURMA & INDIA: FREDERIC HOULTON SUMMERS MERCHANT RESIDENT’S ALBUM, 1890

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 XC2011.08.2.199_017XC2011.08.2.199_017
[MALE ELEPHANT WITH KEEPER]
FROM: BURMA, 1870-1880 / BY A. J. LAVIE

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 XC2011.08.2.199_034XC2011.08.2.199_034
HO GIRLS IN GALA DRESS, CHYBASSA [PHOTOGRAPH BY TOSCO PEPPE, 1860S]
FROM: BURMA, 1870-1880 / BY A. J. LAVIE

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

XC2011.08.2.24_048XC2011.08.2.24_048
VIEW IN SRINAGAR, LOOKING DOWN JHELUM
FROM: PHOTOGRAPH ALBUM OF CASHMERE & LADAKH, 1886: VIEWS TAKEN BY H. W. BENSON

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

XC2011.08.2.150_029XC2011.08.2.150_029
JAPAN: 63 PAGODA OF TOJI AND TEA GARDEN, KIOTO
FROM: LE TOUR DU MONDE: HAWAII, JAPAN, CHINA AND INDIA, 1899-1901

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The proliferation of photographic methods invented and utilized during this period is monumental. All sorts of chemicals were mixed to make emulsions; endless combinations of silver nitrate, light and incidental reactive liquids were applied to various papers, cards, coatings and mountings, resulting in a confusing array of photographic types.

RBSBoxoPhotos PHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

This month I was accepted into a specialized intensive training called “The Identification of Photographic Processes,” offered at the Rare Book School (RBS) at the University of Virginia (UVa) in Charlottesville. Jim Reilly, Director of the Image Permanence Institute (IPI) in Rochester, New York, and Ryan Boatright, co-founder and digital print maker of Atelier Boba in Paris, France, taught our select group of ten rare book, archives, and art professionals. The goals: learn to delineate actual photographs from mechanical prints, and be able to name and describe photographic and print processes based on specific clue sets, observations, and physical evidence.

RBSAldermanPHOTOGRAPH BY ROCHELLE THEO PIENN

We would begin our days by meeting in the Alderman Library on the University grounds. Former President of the United States Thomas Jefferson founded UVa in 1819. His influence permeated the architecture, landscape, design, and education style of the entire campus. Historic preservation and respect for Jefferson’s original intentions affect the University’s operations, even now. In fact, Jefferson was so adamant about the separation of church and state that the University originally did not include a church. The beautiful little chapel was built across from the Alderman Library seventy years later, in gothic fairytale stone with stained glass, antithetical to the rational columns, brick walls and rotunda-topped roofs of UVa’s academic buildings.

RBSChapelPHOTOGRAPH BY ROCHELLE THEO PIENN

Our classes began with introductory lectures on photographic and printing types and processes, presented chronologically.

RBSJimAtHeadofClassYES PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN BOATRIGHT, COURTESY OF ATELIER BOBA

 Jim and Ryan would then distribute original prints for us to examine.

RBSantiquephotos PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN BOATRIGHT, COURTESY OF ATELIER BOBA

By using magnifying loupes and handheld microscopes with LED lights, we would try to determine, just to begin with, if a photograph was a salt, albumen, gelatin, or platinum print – or perhaps none of the above?

RBSTwowLoupesPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

RBSClasswJimYesPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

To further understand the technique of early photographers, Jim supervised our making of paper prints in an old-fashioned way that employed glass plates. After securing our plates and photo sensitive paper in wooden frames, we brought our pictures outside to develop in the sun.

RBSsunphotoPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

Later, Ryan brought us into a typical manual silver printmaking darkroom.  As a result of living in an almost exclusively digital age, some of my classmates had never before seen an enlarger or enjoyed the magic of hand developing black and white photographs.

RBSDarkroomRedlightPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

Photos are enlarged from negatives under amber light. Once they’re developed and fixed in chemicals, they can be rinsed and examined under normal light.

RBSdarkroomyesPHOTOGRAPH BY RACHAEL DEALY SALISBURY, COURTESY OF RARE BOOK SCHOOL

At the completion of the course, we were challenged to identify thirteen original photographs. Were they Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes or tintypes? Perhaps we were looking at cyanotypes or platinotypes. What about albumen and gelatin prints? How about collodion or kallitypes? Maybe the images had actually been engravings, or even carbon prints. Were the images affixed to a supporting layer? What kind? When were the pictures taken? Are they chromogenic? Polaroid or Kodachrome? And what about digital prints – offset, dye sublimation, inkjet pigment, et al? Could we tell when we were being fooled?

RBSexamingingwithmicroscopesRBSantiquephotos PHOTOGRAPH BY RYAN BOATRIGHT, COURTESY OF ATELIER BOBA

Our expert instructors reassured us that the identification of photographic processes would be a delightful journey of continued learning, and that expertise would come with time and practice. I intend to hone my skills on the many wonderful photographs in the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection at the Wolfsonian-FIU library. Much like stopping to smell the flowers on a sunny day in Thomas Jefferson’s gardens, identifying photographic processes makes for thoughtful observation and appreciation. I look forward to more photographic interludes.

RBSFlowers

A LUXURIOUS TOUR DE FORCE: LE MIAMI, AMERICAN EXCURSIONIST, AND THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY COLLECTION

•June 14, 2014 • 1 Comment

 

XB1991.335.000

 This past Monday, Herb Sosa organized an insider tour of The Wolfsonian museum for members of American Excursionist, the leading inbound tour operator for the United States. The group was in town to attend the preeminent luxury travel conference and trade show in the United States, LE Miami, which celebrated the collision of luxury and contemporary. The conference was focused on defining the latest developments in fostering a more creative tourist and travel experience by connecting high-level buyers with a curated crowd of nonconformist travel brands. After organizing immersion tours of Little Havana and Downtown Miami, Sosa’s group explored the hedonistic playground mecca that is South Beach, with its rich history, its beautifully preserved and enhanced Art Deco architecture, its penchant for chic design and food culture, and its hedonistic party atmosphere.

XM2000.29.000

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. LONG-TERM LOAN

XB2002.03.4.005

GIFT OF JAMES FINDLAY

 Miami Beach will be celebrating its centennial anniversary this coming March, and from the start, real estate promoters and developers like Carl G. Fisher (1874-1939) marketed the barrier island as a spot where “rags-to-riches” nouveau riche socialites like himself and his young wife might escape the Northern winters and have an opportunity to bask in the sun while avoiding the stuffy atmosphere of Palm Beach.

XB1991.325_000

 XC1999.12_000

Fisher’s original vision for Miami Beach was not so very different from the Palm Beach model, with the construction of large and luxurious hotels in the Mediterranean-revival style, such as the Nautilus and the Flamingo.

XC1992.835.12

 XC1992.835.01

 XC1992.837.1_005

 These hotels were designed to cater to the whims of a genteel clientele, offering such amenities as boat docks, swimming pools, golf courses, polo fields, and tennis courts on the grounds of the hotel.

 XC1992.837.1_015

 XC1992.835.2

 Entertainment for the guests in the largely undeveloped “city” included organized tea dances, yacht races and regattas, and gondola and elephant rides.

 XC1992.835.07

 XC1992.837.1_002

XC1992.835

 XC1992.837.2.10

The land bust that followed the devastating and deadly Great Hurricane that hit Miami Beach in 1926 ended plans for a swimming pool addition to the Nautilus, bankrupted Fisher, and ultimately resulted in the bulldozing of his grand hotels and a shift in construction during the 1930s and 1940s to the more streamlined Art Deco hotels preserved to this day.

 XC2008.10.6.6.000

 XC2008.10.6.1.000

GIFTS OF H. LAWRENCE WIGGINS III

 Located in the old Washington Storage building, (one of the last Mediterranean-revival style buildings constructed in what later became the heart of the historic Art Deco District), The Wolfsonian-FIU is no stranger to luxury travel.

 XB1991.940.6_000

 XB1993.5_000

 The museum and rare book and special collection library includes incredible (and growing) collections of art and artifacts documenting the luxury tourist trade spanning the globe from the mid-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century, and in the case of ocean liner and cruise industry, all the way up to the present.

XC2011.04.10.1.18_000

 Our tourist trade collection includes hundreds of travel posters, thousands of travel brochures and advertisements, and tens of thousands of printed materials promoting travel aboard ocean liners and cruise ships.

 XX1990_2940-jpg

As our founder, Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. was fond of trains and traveled extensively in the 1980s by railway car, it is only natural that the Wolfsonian library holds a great deal of materials documenting travel by train. The library has a decent number of brochures for the Santa Fe line, as well as calendars published by the Empire Builder, both of which marketed their routes with illustrations of “exotic” Pueblo and Blackfeet Indian peoples.

 XC2000.13.6_000

 XB1991.1054_000

XB1998.32_000

 CALENDAR ILLUSTRATIONS TAKEN FROM PAINTINGS BY WINOLD REISS (1886-1953)

 Canadian Pacific used illustrations of passengers seated aboard streamlined, domed trains to advertise their comfortable and luxurious accommodations.

 XC2008.05.15.46_001

 XC2008.05.15.46_014

 While today travel by bus is not generally accounted as luxury travel, in an earlier era travel by coach or sightseeing bus was sometimes marketed as such, especially for wealthy elderly patrons less interested in driving themselves or frugal travelers preferring to spend their vacation money on their hotel stay.

 TD1990.64.18.001

 XB2002.03.4.002

 Of course the truly well-to-do often preferred to drive their own automobiles or be chauffeured by a personal driver.

 TD1990.64.1.000

 XC1994.3249.000

 XX1990.340.002

 XC2010.09.5.3.030

GIFT OF T. W. PIETSCH, FACILITATED BY FREDERIC A. SHARF

Today, air travel has become so “pedestrian” and common—at least in the Northern Hemisphere, that many travelers associate flying with cramped seats, delays, security lines, and extra charges for baggage. Some children’s books in our collection, however, remind the reader that for much of the twentieth century, flying was a “lofty” and “uplifting” experience for those fortunate few who traveled by plane.

 XC1994.3038_011

 XC1994.3038_009

 XC1994.3038_008

Then, as now, airlines often included beautiful women pictured in their advertising.

 TD1988.154.13_001

TD1988.154.12_001

While transatlantic flights were more a post-World War II phenomenon, in the 1930s lighter-than-air-ships competed with ocean liners, promising smoother and faster crossings, and luxurious accommodations.

 XC1994.3154_001

 XC1992.441.9_000

Given Miami’s position as one of the cruise capitals of the world, it is only natural that printed materials promoting travel by ships of the sea make up one of the strongest areas of our tourist trade collection.

 XC2012.08.1.8_000

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

 The Mitchell Wolfson, Jr., Laurence Miller, and Thomas Ragan collections covering the interwar and post-WWII periods on up to the present.

 XB1992.2296_000

 XC1993.316_014

 XC1993.316_008

 Several items from the latter two collections are presently on exhibit in our rare book library show, Wonders Never Cease: The 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, put together by Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn.

 XC2008.09.1.325.7.000

GIFT OF  LAURENCE MILLER

 XC2012.01.1.138.2_002

GIFT OF THOMAS RAGAN

 Thanks to the efforts of our Digital Asset Manager, Derek Merleaux and our Digital Resources Photographer, David Almeida we now have a virtual display of that exhibition.

http://labs.wolfsonian.org/exhibits/panama/

Our ocean liner collection is growing rapidly, and just the other day we discovered some additions while unwrapping some boxes of promised gifts from museum founder Mitchell Wolfson, Jr.

20140610_112340

20140610_112313  20140610_112359

Of course, luxury travel is not only about how one gets there, but about the destination itself. So for the benefit of our insider tour group, we also pulled some materials from the Vicki Gold Levi Cuba collection to remind them of just how easy it once was to travel from South Florida to that Caribbean island.

XC2002.11.4.409_000

 XC2002.05.9.5_000

 XC2002.05.9.5_006

 XC2002.11.4.216_000

 XC2002.11.4.311_000

 XC2002.11.4.402_000

 XC2002.11.4.127_000

GIFTS OF VICKI GOLD LEVI

FROM GERMAN-OCCUPATION TO D-DAY AND ALLIED LIBERATION: WAR PROPAGANDA FROM THE WOLFSONIAN MUSEUM COLLECTION

•June 7, 2014 • 1 Comment

XC2006.12.3.38_000

Yesterday marked the seventieth anniversary of the Allied landing of more than 160,000 troops along fifty miles of heavily fortified coastline in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. As we are preparing exhibitions to commemorate the hundred year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, one of my colleagues here at The Wolfsonian, Regina Bailey, surprised the staff yesterday with doughnuts and print-outs as it was also National Doughnut Day—a holiday created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to remember the men and women in their ranks who served doughnuts to the troops in the trenches of the First World War. While I was unable to locate any material in our own collection documenting the morale-boosting efforts of the Salvation Army during the Great War, I did find an image of the group at work in the wake of the Nazi bombing campaign in England during the Second World War. The illustration was drawn by the Polish artist, Feliks Topolski (1907-1989) and included in his Britain in Peace and War.

XC2013.11.8.2_113

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

Other original drawings by Topolski documenting Allied support to Russian front will be the subject of another exhibition scheduled for 2016.

After the German “blitzkrieg” invasion of Poland in 1939, Great Britain and France declared war against Hitler’s Germany, but actually took little action—ushering in the so-called Sitzkrieg, or “Phoney War.” Having concluded a non-aggression and friendship pact with his former Soviet enemies to the East and having divided up Poland between them, Hitler and his generals were free to move his divisions west and to invade and bring France under the Nazi boot.

XC1993_18_000

After the signing of the armistice with Germany, the collaborationist Vichy Regime assumed power in France under the figurehead of Marshall Philippe Pétain (1856-1951), a hero of the Great War, and the vice-president of Vichy’s Council of Ministers and later head of government, Pierre Laval (1883-1945).

XC2010.11.1.027

GIFT OF MARTIJN F. LE COUTRE

In addition to this humorous portfolio plate by Mexican artist Antonio Arias Bernal (1914-1960) depicting Maréchal Pétain as collaborating under duress, the museum holds a large collection of propaganda literature documenting the German-occupation of France produced by or from the point of view of the fascist Vichy government. Florida International University professor Maria Garcia has been coming to our library during the last few weeks to look at some of the Vichy propaganda materials in the collection to prepare for a course she will be teaching in the fall.

XC1991.1085.000

XC1991.1085.003

83.2.2318.060 83.2.2318.106

While the Vichy regime actively collaborated with the Nazi occupiers in shoring up coastal defenses, many French men and women longed for the day when Allied armies dared invade and liberate their country. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese brought America into the conflict, a meeting between U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt (1882-1945), Great Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965), and Free French forces, Generals Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) and Henri Giraud (1879-1949) was arranged in Casablanca, French Morocco in January 1943 to confer on strategy and the next phase of the war.

XC2010.11.1.042

GIFT OF MARTIJN F. LE COUTRE

The famous 1942 film, Casablanca starring Humphrey Bogart as a cynical expatriate and Ingrid Bergman as his love interest had been designed to help a skeptical American movie-going public grapple with the contradictions of being asked to help liberate France when part of that government was actively cooperating with their Nazi occupiers. Ultimately Bogart’s character, Rick, (and the audience) come to respect the efforts of resistance leaders and to recognize that beneath the veneer of collaboration, even French officials were happy to turn a blind eye to or take part in the fight against their Nazi overlords.

The library holds a couple of artifacts specifically celebrating the Allied landings in 1944, known as “Operation Overlord” under the direction of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), supreme commander of Allied Expeditionary Forces.

XC2010.11.1.041

GIFT OF MARTIJN F. LE COULTRE

An envelope with a violet caricature of Hitler and the warning that “D-Day is coming,” has “coming” stamped over with “Here!” with the dates of the landings printed in red.

XM2001.07.2.22.000

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. LOAN

A French children’s bookpublished in Paris towards the war’s end, La bête est morte! [The beast is dead!], also depicts the Allied landings on D-Day in its history of the war fought by cartoon animals.

XC2007.03.17.4.036

GIFT OF PAMELA K. HARER

Of course, ephemera and children’s book illustrations do little to capture the significance of the landings which involved more than 5,000 ships and landing craft, 13,000 planes, and cost the lives of more than 9,000 Allied servicemen. Their sacrifice won the Allies a foot-hold on the continent and allowed more than 100,000 soldiers to begin the long and difficult struggle to retake France, and to fight on to effect the unconditional surrender of Germany.

XC2010.11.1.040

GIFT OF MARTIJN F. LE COULTRE

XC1991.884.000

“MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS”: HARVEST OF SHAME REVISITED FROM A WOLFSONIAN PERSPECTIVE

•May 31, 2014 • Leave a Comment

XB1990.366.051

I was listening this morning to NPR this morning as I shaved, dressed, and otherwise readied myself for work. Scott Simon was speaking with ProPublica’s Michael Grabell about his new Harvest of Shame documentary series. The new exposé deliberately reused the title of one of the most famous American investigative reports of the twentieth century, a scathing CBS report produced by Edward R. Murrows airing the day after the Thanksgiving holiday in 1960 that focused on the “migrants, workers in the sweat shops of the soil – the harvest of shame.” In it, one farmer was quoted as saying that “We used to own our slaves; now we just rent them.”

Unlike the original Harvest of Shame piece, the new investigative series focuses more broadly, but now less forcefully, on the disgraceful and often hazardous working conditions, unrelieved poverty, and poor treatment of blue-collar and temporary workers in the “Land of Milk and Honey.” Whether working in pizza kitchens or on assembly lines, Grabell’s modern investigation shows that America has made little progress on her “wars on poverty,” as it documents the growth and plight of the “Permanently Temporary” unbenefited workers in the wake of the Great Recession.

http://mediahub.pk/watch?v=waeMkka60po

Arriving at my own job, I began thinking about both the original and revisited Harvest of Shame reports, and just how much they echo some of the same issues and concerns as reflected in the objects and artifacts in our museum. And so with that as my starting point, I present for your consideration a Wolfsonian historical perspective on the exploitation of labor from the Gilded Age through the middle of the twentieth century.

Although the museum mainly focuses on the period, 1851 through 1945, the inequalities of wealth that characterized the Gilded Age and Progressive Era are less well represented in the collection than in the era of the Great Depression. There are, for example, only a few works in our collection that document one of the deadly industrial disaster—the March 25, 1911 fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory building in Manhattan which resulted in the loss of lives of 146 garment workers (the vast majority of them young women).

85_5_3_1

WPA MURAL STUDY, VICTORY OF LIGHT OVER DARKNESS

XC2011.04.12.3_001

A few other works in the rare book and special collections library document other labor struggles, such as the Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912 provoked by mill employers who attempted to reduce workers’ weekly pay after the State of Massachusetts lowered the maximum hour-work week from 56 to 54.

XC2011.04.12.13_178

The library also holds only a few works relating to the trial and execution of pro-labor agitators and anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.

XC2011.04.12.13_306

Socialists and Communists saw in the Wall Street Crash and the onset of the Great Depression proof that Capitalism had sown the seeds of its own destruction. Left-leaning artists like Hugo Gellert, Rockwell Kent, William Gropper, Lynd Ward, Giacomo Patrí, and others created artwork that documented in black and white the dangerous working conditions, unfair labor practices, disparities in wealth, shabby living spaces, and captured the despair of the millions thrown into the ranks of the unemployed and dispossessed, the under-employed and temporarily employed workers.

83_2_2022_022

HUGO GELLERT (1892-1985)

XB1990.366.100

ROCKWELL KENT (1882-1971)

XB1990.366.096

WILLIAM GROPPER (1897-1977)

XB1990.366.099

LYND WARD (1905-1985)

May 201470635

GIACOMO PATRI (1898-1978)

This last image by Patrí comes from a graphic novel titled White Collar, which sought by illustrations alone to convince the “professionals” that their white collars blinded them to their true class interests which actually lay with their blue collar working class brethren.

XB1990.518.000[1]

The museum collections are rich with materials documenting the struggles of farming folk and industrial laborers in the period of the Great Depression. Ironically, it was during the era that saw one-quarter of the American workforce thrown out of work, that the nation’s artistic attentions were focused on the worker and manual labor. Much of the art produced during the New Deal era, for example, celebrated the physical labor of the toilers of the fields.

84_7_105

FARMER BOY FIGURINE BY GRACE LUSE, FOR THE OHIO ART PROGRAM

TD1990_127_1_001

COTTON FROM AMERICAN IMPORTS AND EXPORTS SCULPTURE

BY WAYLANDE DESANTIS GREGORY, 1938

TD1993_93_1

AGRICULTURE MAQUETTE BY HELENE SARDEAU, FOR THE FEDERAL ARTS PROJECT

If American sculptors (either independently or under the auspices of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Federal Art Projects) suddenly appear to have rediscovered the plight of the “forgotten man,” they were not alone. Other artists inspired by FDR’s New Deal for the “common man,” also used their talents in making art with a social conscience.

XC2014.03.1.9_001

XC2014.03.1.9_009

XC2014.03.1.9_010

GIFT OF FRANCIS XAVIER LUCA & CLARA HELENA PALACIO LUCA

XC2010.09.7.133_334

GIFT OF CHRISTOPHER DENOON

Their compatriots in the Federal Theatre Project were simultaneously putting on plays such as the Living Newspaper production, Triple-A Plowed Under, and musicals such as Marc Blitzstein’s controversial pro-Proletarian opera, The Cradle Will Rock set in Steeltown, USA.

XM2000.107.3_050a

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PROMISED GIFT

As President Roosevelt worked to build national support for his programs, his Administration dispatched Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographers and FWP (Federal Writers’ Project) writers around the country to document conditions in the countryside and factory towns. Cheaply produced government books combined muck-racking journalism, exhaustive research and statistics, and documentary photographs to educate the public about the problems of poverty and inequality and his New Deal solutions for unemployed urban and rural youth, dispossessed families, Mexican migrant farm laborers, etc.

WC2008.12.2.8.003

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR PROMISED GIFT

XC2010.09.7.186.000

GIFT OF CHRISTOPHER DENOON

XX1990.435.000

TD1988.62.2.000

TD1989.101.7.000

TD1989.101.9.000

TD1988.132.10_044

Many of the FSA photographs were reproduced in non-governmental books and pamphlets designed by union organizers or social reformers to call attention to the continuing problems faced by agricultural and industrial workers.

WC2012.08.4.17_000

WC2012.08.4.17_060

MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR. PROMISED GIFT

XC2002.02.3.4_000

XC2011.03.6_008

XC2011.03.6_035

XC2011.03.6_084

XC2008.09.2.048j

Another pamphlet used illustrations instead of photographs and an allusion to characters from John Steinbeck’s reform novel, The Grapes of Wrath to remind Americans that the problems faced by displaced farming families like the Joads had not suddenly been fixed. A few of the images are eerily similar to the opening shots of the 1960s Harvest of Shame documentary, suggesting that little or nothing had really changed in thirty years!

XC2012.09.4.2_005[1]

XC2012.09.4.2_018[1]

XC2012.09.4.2_024[1]

Recognizing the transformative power of photographic images to galvanize support for social change, union leaders organizing West Coast longshoremen, stevedores, and other dock workers published magazines to win public sympathy for their strike and counter anti-union propaganda in the press.

XC2011.04.12.1_026

XC2011.04.12.1_058

PURCHASED WITH FUNDS DONATED BY MITCHELL WOLFSON, JR.

The original 1960 and updated Harvest of Shame investigative reports also recognize the power of photography and film to convey the message that not much progress has been made in improving the lives of the most economically and socially vulnerable of America’s working class. Ironically, some of the film footage of the dock workers taken today suggests that much of the gains made by labor towards the close of the Great Depression have been erased and reversed in the post-Great Recession era.

A CANAL IN CASES, OR, INSTALLING WONDERS NEVER CEASE AT THE WOLFSONIAN-FIU LIBRARY

•May 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Today’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Sharf Associate Librarian, Rochelle Pienn. Ms. Pienn works exclusively with the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection in The Wolfsonian-FIU library, and she recently put together an exhibition celebrating the hundred year anniversary of the completion of the Panama Canal. Referencing the Herculean accomplishment of the excavation and construction of the canal (which is today in the late stages of a major expansion), her exhibit is titled:Wonders Never Cease.

85_19_220_000

All of us here at The Wolfsonian-FIU library are deeply grateful for the continued generosity and support of Jean and Frederic Sharf. Their commitment to this institution has allowed us to share such wonderful materials as Ms. Pienn has organized in her exhibit with our university faculty, students, and the general public. What follows is her report on the installation:

XC2011_08_2_304_083

GIFT OF JEAN S. AND FREDERIC A. SHARF

The Panama Canal, a modern wonder of the world, came to be after decades of planning, building, digging, failing, dying, and, finally, triumph. Wonders Never Cease: The 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal, a Wolfsonian-FIU library exhibit, took months of research, cataloging, scanning, curating, and installing. Perhaps a direct comparison between the creation of a museum library exhibit and the engineering of the mighty maritime gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is a slight stretch of the imagination. The building of the Panama Canal involved intelligence, brute force, danger and daring. The design and installation of Wonders Never Cease called for creativity, collaboration, historical insight, and visual acuity.

pancanexhib1

Once I culled the items for display with help from my librarian colleagues, the curatorial department reviewed my selections. Installation work began in earnest once the ideal beauty, balance, and narratives of the item groupings were achieved.

pancanexhib2The library exhibition space on the third floor of the Wolfsonian-FIU contains two large flat cases, a long upright wall display, and a tall traditional object transparent cube display box. For the upright wall display, the challenge is to safely arrange documents, books, and other ephemera so that they are mounted securely without compromising the preservation of the materials.

pancanexhib5Then, each piece will be arranged in appropriate order with the accompanying narrative labels. Measurements are carefully taken before each object is set in its place in the display alcove.

pancanexhib3Sometimes custom mounts need to be designed in order to hold books open to a preferred page, or to raise closed books to an inclined position.

pancanexhib4Once the standing flat cases are filled with their designated material groupings and labels, the exhibit is almost ready for the public to view and enjoy. In order for patrons to have the opportunity to see what’s inside the displayed books and brochures, I prepared a PowerPoint presentation to run on a loop in perpetuity. Each image includes a descriptive caption and citation. Voilà! An exhibit is born.

During this process, a curator from the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach contacted me. She expressed interest in borrowing the Wolfsonian-FIU library materials from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf collection for an upcoming exhibit she was planning on the Panama Canal at her museum for later in the year.

henry_morrison_flagler_museum_facadePhoto courtesy of the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum website at http://www.flaglermuseum.us

Before heading to South Beach to visit us, the Curator and Assistant Curator of the Flagler Museum checked the Wolfsonian-FIU library catalog online. New items from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection, along with many other wonderful acquisitions to the library, are being cataloged and scanned every day so that anyone with computer access can search for items and view digitized illustrations, photographs, and decorative publisher’s bindings. The curators made their selections in advance and informed me of which books, objects and photograph albums they wished to see in person. Once they arrived, they spent time in the library reading room examining their selections, as an initial research phase for their October exhibit.

curatorsflagler2

curatorsflagler1

Wonders Never Cease: The 100th Anniversary of the Panama Canal will be on view at the Wolfsonian-FIU Library through August 2014. I’m also excited to share that our accompanying online exhibit is in production. It will include a new interactive component that will allow the viewer to have virtual 360-degree navigational capabilities around the exhibit vestibule. Viewers will also be able to click on individual books within the cases and see full images, read the exhibit story labels, and watch an introductory video. Stay tuned!

NOSTALGIA FOR CUBA: THE VICKI GOLD LEVI COLLECTION AT THE WOLFSONIAN LIBRARY

•May 21, 2014 • 1 Comment

This past Saturday, I had provided two VIP guests with an interest in pulp magazine cover art with a special behind-the-scenes tour of the museum and a display of some of the pulp paperbacks and periodicals in the library collection. Many of the pulp paperbacks (and an amazing Cuban poster) I had laid out on the library tables had been gifted to the institution by long-time supporter, Vicki Gold Levi.

XC2013.12.2.19_000    XC2013.12.2.20_000

XC2002.11.4.356

XC2002.11.4.389_000

XC2002.11.4.387_000

And so it seemed a perfect confluence of coincidences that while waiting for the elevator in the lobby of the Wolfsonian museum, I should run into one of our curators, Christian Larsen, walking in with none other than Vicki in the flesh! The two had been conferring first in New York and then here in Miami about an exhibition of some of the materials she had gifted to our collection documenting the U.S-Cuba tourist trade in the pre-Castro era. The exhibition, Paradise Found: Cuban Allure, American Seduction, is being organized by Mr. Larsen with Rosa Lowinger serving as guest curator, and is tentatively scheduled for some time in 2016.

XC2002.11.4.15_001

XC2002.11.4.257

The exhibition will not sugar-coat the realities of the tourist trade—after all, many Americans were traveling to Cuba in order to indulge in the tropical delights of sun and sand, rum and Rhumba. During the era of Prohibition in the States, tourists crossing the Florida straits to Cuba were able openly to frequent casinos and gambling joints, cabarets, nightclubs, and dancehalls, a tradition that continued to have appeal long after the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment.

XC2002.11.4.6_001

XC2002.11.4.6_002

XC2002.11.4.68_002

XC2002.11.4.69_003

XC2002.11.4.69_000   XC2002.11.4.69_001  XC2002.11.4.342_000

XC2002.11.4.73_000

XC2002.11.4.83_000

XC2002.11.4.127_000

XC2002.11.4.227_000

XC2002.11.4.228_000

XC2002.11.4.136_000

While the Wolfsonian library already holds a substantial and important collection of printed ephemera and Cuban periodicals thanks to her earlier gifts, after visiting the Cuban Nostalgia Fair, Vicki has most generously added some new materials to our collection to help round out the exhibition. All of us here at The Wolfsonian are thrilled to be collaborating with her on this latest project.

XC2002.11.4.357.22_000

XC2002.11.4.357.20_000

XC2002.11.4.357.5_000

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 158 other followers