Curator:
Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus,
Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts,
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Contributing Essayists:
Victoria Martino, Independent Curator
Peter Frank, Senior Curator, Riverside Museum

Organized by
Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA,
in association with
Denenberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA.

 

 


- Exhibition List with Images PDF -

- Exhibition Installation Images-

- Gallery Guide PDF -

- Exhibition Facts -

- Schedule -



While many of the prints in PAN may be familiar to a large number of collectors and scholars, it is unusual that this highly important document of the turbulence between avant-garde and conservative artists in fin-de-siècle Europe should not have had a serious exhibition in the United States in the one hundred and fourteen years since its original publication in 1895.

PAN, the important German five-volume Art Nouveau periodical, is replete with plates, illustrations, color initials, vignettes and tail-pieces representing a multitude of processes of modern picture reproduction, including original lithographs, etchings, and woodcuts, and other original and near-original processes in black and white or full color.

The name PAN was taken from the ancient God of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music: his goat-like head, with horns and beard, like a faun or satyr-- virile, connected to fertility and the season of spring-- was the logo of the venture.

Also, the Greek origin of the term is “ALL”—and indeed, the group of 30-something German intellectuals, art historians, and cultural observers who embarked in 1895 upon one of the milestones of publishing in the graphic arts aspired to a pan-European reach.

Thus in PAN we are privileged to view a collection of brilliant graphic works by such French, Dutch, Belgian, German, English, and Swedish artists as Rodin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Signac, and Seurat; Van de Velde; Rops; Kollwitz and Behrens; Nicholson, Rothenstein, and Pennell; and Anders Zorn, among many others. PAN’s literary contributers included such figures as Nietzsche, Novalis, Mallarmé, Maeterlinck, Ibsen, and Verlaine.

It is a particular merit of this first extensive exhibition of PAN to discover the brilliance of original prints by less well known contributors such as Walter Leistikow, Hans Thoma, Wilhelm Volz, Otto Eckmann, Eugen Kirchner, and Albert Krüger.

The exhibition is enriched with elucidating commentaries on the plates by the distinguished Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Art, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Robert Flynn Johnson; together with a cultural overview by Peter Frank, Senior Curator, Riverside Museum and Editor, THE Magazine, Los Angeles, together with an excerpt from a forthcoming book on the subject by Victoria Martino, independent curator and art historian.

The exhibition was organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, CA, in association with Denenberg Fine Arts, West Hollywood, CA.

 


 

- Additional Exhibition Installation Images -

 

Exhibition Facts


Dates Available:    February 2010 - 2016


Contents:              80 framed prints from the PAN publication
                               1 volume of PAN for display                               


Publications:       A full color gallery guide

Space Req:          300 – 400 running feet approx.

Loan Fee:             On Request

Insurance:           Exhibitor responsible 

Shipping:             Exhibitor responsible 

Req:                      Appropriate security

Contact:               Jeffrey Landau, Director
                                Tel: 310-397-3098

                                 jlandau@a-r-t.com

 _________________________________________________________________

Schedule

as of 09/01/14


2009

October 1, 2009 - January 23, 2010
Cal State Universtiy, San Bernadino, CA


2011

January 29 - April 10
Appleton Museum of Art
Ocala, FL

May 21 - September 11
The Frick
Pittsburgh, PA


2012

September 15, 2012 - January 7, 2013
Taubman Museum
Roanoke, VA


2014

August 18 - October 19
Wright Museum of Art
Beloit College
Beloit, WI

November 7 - January 11, 2015
Plattsburgh State Museum
Plattsburgh, NY


2015

February 21 - May 10
Frye Art Museum
Seattle, WA

June 4 - August 23
Citadelle Art Foundation
Canadian, TX

September 15 - December 31
OPEN

 

2016

OPEN

 


List of Artists

BEARDSLEY, AUBREY (English 1872-1898)
BEHRENS, PETER (German 1868-1940)
BRADLEY, WILL (American 1868-1962)
DENIS, MAURICE (French 1870-1943)
DUMONT, MAURICE (French 1869-1899)
ECKMANN, OTTO (German 1865-1902)
CROSS, HENRI-EDMOND (French 1856-1910)
GEYGER, ERNST MORITZ (German 1861-1941)
HALM, PETER (German 1854-1923)
HÉRAN, HENRI (German 1864-1940)
HÖNEMANN, MARTIN (German 1858
ILLIES, ARTUR (German 1870-1953)
KAMPMANN, GUSTAV (German 1859-1917)
KIRCHNER, EUGEN (German 1865-1938)
KLINGER, MAX (German 1857-1920)
KLOTZ, ERNST (German 1863-?)
KOLLWITZ, KÄTHE (German 1867-1945)
KÖPPING, KARL (German 1848-1914)
KRÜGER, ALBERT (German 1858-?)
LEISTIKOW, WALTER (German 1865-1908)
LÉVEILLÉ, ANDRÉ (French 1880-1963)
LIEBERMANN, MAX (German 1847-1935)
LIEBL, WILHELM (German 1844-1900)
LUCE, MAXIMILIEN (French 1858-1941)
LÜHRIG, GEORG (German 1868-1957)
MAURIN, ,CHARLES (French 1856-1914)
MORDANT, DANIEL (French 1853-1914)
MORRIS, WILLIAM (English 1834-1896)MÜLLER, RICHARD (Austrian 187-1954)

NAAGER, FRANZ (German 1870-1942)
NICHOLSON, WILLLIAM (British 1872-1949)
OLDE, HANS (German 1855-1917)
ONASCH, THEODORA (German---)
ORLIK, EMIL (Czech 1870-1932)
PENNELL, JOSEPH (American 1860-1926)
PETITJEAN, HIPPOLYTE (French 1854-1929)
RODIN, AUGUSTE (French 1840-1917)
ROPS, FELICIEN (Belgian 1833-1898)
ROTHENSTEIN, SIR WILLIAM (British 1872-1945)
SEURAT, GEORGES after (French 1859-1891)
SIGNAC, PAUL (French 1863-1935)
SKARBINA, FRANZ (German 1849-1910)
STAUFFER-BERN, KARL (Swiss 1857-1891)
STRANG, WILLIAM (Scottish 1859-1921)
THOMA , HANS (German 1839-1924)
TOULOUSE-LAUTREC, HENRI DE (French 1864-1901)
VALLOTON, FÉLIX EDOUARD (Swiss 1865-1925)
VAN DE VELDE, HENRY (Belgian 1863-1957)
VAN RYSSELBERGHE, THÉO (Belgian 1862-1926)
VELDHEER, JACOB GERARD (Dutch 1866-1954)
VETH, JAN PIETER (Dutch 1864-1925)
VOLZ, WILHELM (German 1855-1901)
VON HOFMANN, LUDWIG (German 1861-1945)
VON KALCKREUTH, (German 1855-1928)
VON STUCK, FRANZ (German 1863-1928)
VON VOLKMANN, HANS RICHARD (1860-1927)
ZORN, ANDERS (Swedish 1860-1920)



Exhibition Introduction

 

Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus
Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco




 

 “We have not chosen to follow the taste of everybody, but to follow the taste of a few people who have been at the forefront of thought and of investigation, and we have assumed that everybody else would follow along in time—and they have.”

- A. Hyatt Mayor

Selected Writings and Bibliography, 1983

Although history is messy, after historians have done their work the same slice of time often becomes altogether too tidy-- presumed “winners” in culture, science, politics, and war on placed pedestals,  and everyone else thrust into the shadows of time.

The late Robert Rosenblum knew this all too well when in 2000 he organized the Guggenheim Museum’s provocative and highly controversial exhibition 1900: Art at the Crossroads. The exhibition consisted of two hundred and fifty paintings and sculptures, all created in the first year of the last century by the leading artists of that era from around the world. It was made clear by the exhibition that the works were created in a multitude of styles and contained a vast array of subject matter. Some of the artists on display were considered art historical giants: Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso, and Piet Mondrian. Others, like Eugene Carriere, Ignacio Zuloaga, and Eugene Jansson were underappreciated masters that deserved greater recognition. And there were works by artists such as Leon Frederic and Antonio Teixeira Carneiro, so stunningly bad that we must wonder how they ever received their earlier acclaim.

Rosenblum’s exhibition was attacked for not being restricted to significant artists of that era. Instead, his choices demonstrated a broad cultural framework of the period, with the result that the era appeared culturally messy, forcing its contemporary audience to “work” to understand the larger context of art of the time that was the concept of the exhibition:  good art history, bad show business.

Our exhibition, which may be the first comprehensive examination of the works of graphic art created for the pioneering German cultural publication Pan, presents startling parallels to Rosenblum’s exhibition. The years of Pan’s publication, 1895-1900, neatly coincide with the Guggenheim exhibition. Indeed, critic Michael Kimmelman could have been writing about the content of the prints in Pan when, in reviewing the Art at the Crossroads  for the New York Times, he spoke of the 

“widespread mood of paranoia, pessimism, and general fin-de-siecle angst, cutting across nationalities, generations, and styles. It isn’t quite true that not a single picture in this exhibition depicts the sun shining through clear skies, but almost. These are literally dark works. Poverty, religious fear, loneliness, sexual anxiety including homosexual guilt, distrust of industrialization: they’re the symptoms of a psychic havoc wrought by Freud, late Victorianism, urban sprawl, the reshuffling of social classes and so on.” 

Pan  took its name from the ancient god of shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music: his goat-like head, with horns and beard like a faun or satyr- are signs of virility and connected with fertility and the season of spring.  It was a wonderful visual logo of the venture, but it also derived from the Greek origin of the term, meaning “all”—and indeed, the group of German intellectuals, art historians, and cultural observers who embarked in 1895 upon Pan, one of the milestones of publishing in the graphic arts, aspired to a pan-European reach.

The individual most responsible for creating the avant-garde deluxe periodical was Julius Meier-Graefe (1867-1935). While still in his twenties, this young German intellectual was able to convince a group of monied conservative art patrons in Berlin spare no expense in funding a limited edition art journal containing original graphic art. If its only purpose had been to recognize and promote homegrown German culture, it would have been a significant accomplishment; but Meier-Graefe’s ambition was far greater. He wished to create a truly international publication that included contributions from the leading artists and writers across all of Europe, even venturing as far as the United States.

Pan was carefully and consciously designed in every detail, including the selection of art and articles it published, its elegant graphic design, layout, and choices of paper. Even the design of the prospectus was thoughtfully engineered to help sell the deluxe periodical to a curious but skeptical and conservative public.

The fact that the quality and consistency of the contents of each issue of Pan never varied in excellence over its six years of publication is a testimony to the high standards set by its editors to create the most beautiful publication of its time. One should not forget the expense, complicated logistics, and sophisticated technical expertise that its production demanded.

The total run for the earliest issues of Pan were printed in an edition of an astounding fifteen hundred and six copies, including special collector’s copies printed on Japan paper, a number that was eventually reduced to twelve hundred and thirteen copies by the time Pan ceased publication in 1900. It was a monumental task to carefully print so large a number of original prints, and a particular challenge to print color graphics using multiple blocks or plates.

Meier-Graefe using extensive contacts in the Parisian art world and beyond, was amazingly able to convince many successful artists to participate in his vision. It was an impressive group including Bradley, Cross, Denis, Luce, Nicholson, Pennell, Rodin, Rops, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, Valloton, van de Velde, and Zorn.

Pan and its contents considered as a bibliophilic totality, however, is easy to attack; it can be criticized for being too conservative, too German, too dour, and too dark. It is in fact all those things, but,  in spite of these qualities, it is also much more. It is the first periodical of such quality and ambition (to a lesser extent The Studio in England) to be truly international in scope. For all the trumpeting of French “Art Nouveau,” France for the most part was exclusionist and nationalistic compared to the relative openness of the German editors regarding contributors to Pan.  As Stephan Tschudi-Madsen wrote in his landmark publication, The Art Nouveau Style (1955), “The Jugend style was conceived in the two-dimensional plane: it is in the columns of Pan and Jugend that its noblest emanation was found… Pan’s importance gradually waned—after its mission had been fulfilled.” 

Make no mistake, the pressures of German cultural insularity, xenophobia, and conservatism resisted Meier-Graefe’s desire for greater intellectual and cultural sophistication, and in 1896 it led to his forced resignation.

It is instructive to think of the eighty graphic works from Pan in this exhibition in terms of popular music today. We are bombarded by a steady onslaught of popular music on a daily basis. After a year, most of the music has disappeared from our consciousness; after a decade, only a select few classics remain. So it is with art.

It is my personal, subjective opinion, in reviewing the printsfor this first exhibition of PAN ever organized in the United States, that ten of the included images should be categorized as graphic art masterpieces, and another thirty considered outstanding works of art. The fact that after one hundred and ten years fifty percent of the works in this exhibition still command our respect is testament to the perspicacity of Julius Meier-Graefe who saw the future through art whose aesthetic courage he championed.


Pan Time:
The First Art Magazine of the Twentieth Century


By Peter Frank

The periodical PAN can be seen, among other things, as a product of its Zeitgeist. In its earnest struggle to maintain an eclectic and international purview, the Berlin-based magazine symptomatized the peculiar expansivity of the fin de siècle, an era whose arts were driven by a tendency to universality even as nationalist sentiment crested globally, and xenophobia took more elaborate (and even pseudo-scientific) form. Indeed, PAN’s supra-nationalism, problematic and contradictory as it could be, betrays a sense among German intellectuals and aesthetes that, situated at the center of Europe as they were, they bore perhaps outsize responsibility for artistic expression throughout the continent – beginning, but not ending, with a newly-unified Germany itself. With the exception of a few poems, the magazine’s written contents are entirely in German, clearly indicating that the intended audience was to be found in the German Kaiserdom and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But in presenting literary and artistic work from France, England, Scandinavia, and elsewhere around the continent as well as from the United States, PAN endorsed and disseminated the often controversial work of foreign artists – artists whose own daring mirrored and even spurred that of their Germanic counterparts.

In this respect PAN embodied the same internationalist impulse that led, for instance, to the establishment of the Biennale di Venezia the same year (1895) the magazine debuted. The next year saw the revival of the Olympic Games – a competitive context, to be sure (as, in fact, was the Biennale), but one designed to channel the inevitable competition between sovereign states into confrontations between their symbolic representatives. One could argue, furthermore, that the Olympic Games as often pitted individuals against one another as they did teams, and that ultimately the contests were not between nationals or ethnics, but between humans. Similarly, the inevitable judgment passed by its audience on the “competitors” in PAN’s pages would be applied, ideally, to individual artists and writers, not to Germans or Frenchmen – a reification, in a way, of the transcendent, modernizing individualism advocated by Friedrich Nietzsche, specifically in Also Sprach Zarathustra, excerpts from which are prominently featured in the very first volume of PAN.

By time PAN appeared, Nietzsche had ceased writing, although his friends, colleagues, and advocates were active in dis-seminating (and reinterpreting) his work. No longer an active author, he had become a touchstone for a younger generation of intellectuals skeptical of ethnocentrism and inherited privilege who, although also distanced from Marxist class consciousness, were to maintain a discourse that would overtly disregard national boundaries (if not national distinctions) and allow for a pan-European networking of vanguard ideas. The First World War broke this internationalist avant-garde trajectory, but until the guns of August 1914 rang out, artists and thinkers of all kinds sought out one another, gravitating, for instance, to the enlightened milieu of Paris and the intellectual ferment of Vienna or, barring that, seeking to make “mini-Athenses” of their own centers. Berlin was one of the richest and most vibrant of such centers, a backwater only in the provincialism forced upon it by its newly ascendant, but fervently reactionary, monarchy and government. By 1910 the German capital had evolved past the conservatism of its most important residents and could claim its own prominence as a center for artistic experiment.

By 1900 – the year that PAN completed the run of its original iteration and its “house philosopher,” Nietzsche, died – it was just becoming clear to Berliners that their city could, and should, maintain such radical discourse. It was also clear to Germans throughout their new kingdom that they could be responsible not simply for the cultivation, but for the generation, of experimental ideas in the
arts. For instance, Jugendstil, a version of Art Nouveau distinct
in philosophy and style from its French equivalent, was defined most specifically by Jugend, a publication out of Munich founded the year after PAN first appeared. Unlike PAN (which was revived in 1910 by Paul Cassirer but appeared fitfully until 1915), Jugend published continually until war broke out. Also unlike the original PAN, Jugend propounded what we recognize today as a coherent style, serving as the voice of a distinctive movement. By contrast, PAN sought in effect to ease rather than provoke its audience into a new world of thought and image.

Still, PAN was as dedicated to the future as Jugend – and can be said to have set the stage for that and other more aesthetically radical periodicals, exhibitions, and other means of propagation. What appears to us as PAN’s sometimes dizzying, sometimes self-contradicting eclecticism was rather its relatively (if not consistently) gentle transiting from one mindset to another. PAN’s reliance on established as well as emerging writers and artists – to the extent of re-presenting many texts and images (beginning with Also Sprach Zarathustra) and intermingling them with new work – must have been seen in its time and place as a graceful and logical guide into a new era (not to mention a new century). The oppositional ideology we associate with artistic avant-gardism, after all, was not to appear for another decade, and the innovators of the fin de siècle – symbolists, naturalists, divisionists, secessionists – saw themselves as alternatives to the hidebound academies, but not as iconoclasts fomenting a rupture with past art. It was radical enough in the context of Wilhelminian Berlin to propose that ap­­plied art was worthy of the same level of intellectual and aesthetic consideration granted fine art; however, the nature and extent of that consideration did not have to be too far removed from convention.

Although PAN, then, could as easily have been named after another Roman god, the two-headed, back-and-forth-facing Janus, its chosen god was a reassuring device by which to advance into a new century, one whose difference had already been heralded by a quarter-century of technological innovation and political and social realignment. In its juxtaposition of old, recent, and new, PAN averred continuity no less – and no more – than it affirmed change. While PAN made more stylistically and ideologically homogeneous publications like Jugend possible, it fell to such publications to exemplify “newness” per se, and ultimately to provide the models for the yet more ideologically driven aesthetic periodicals of the following decade, periodicals such as Der Blaue Reiter, Der Sturm, and even the Dada magazines (to name only a few that appeared in Germany during the 1910s). PAN’s aesthetic outlook, and voice, was more general; with London’s Studio (founded two years earlier), it provided the model for more deliberately educational and informational--even journalistic--art magazines such as Art News (begun in New York in 1902). PAN’s model also was to inspire more generalized cultural loci, publications such as the luxurious American publication Horizon, or the more formally inventive but no less eclectic Aspen and Avant Garde magazines that brought the various arts together. All these appeared in the 1960s during the Art Nouveau revival and critical reassessment of the fin-de-siècle period. And these periodicals appeared at a time when new practices such as happenings, concrete poetry, and conceptual art were being introduced and theorized as Intermedia – a renewal of the Wagnerian concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, a concept that was suffused throughout PAN.

The intermingling of visual, verbal, musical, and theatrical praxis took place far more immediately in the artist-produced periodicals of the ‘60s – Wolf Vostell’s happenings-oriented dé-collage, for instance, or the Brazilian concrete poetry journal Noigandres – than it did in Horizon or even the design-heavy Aspen. In this, the arts publications of forty-some years ago recapitulated the distinction between stylistically committed periodicals such as Jugend and more broadly dedicated publications like PAN. But Horizon was finally no less influential than Aspen on the general public’s understanding of new art; it served the same purpose as had PAN six or seven decades earlier in acclimating a potential audience to the otherwise daunting world(s) of artistic expression, innovative or not, and inculcating a sense of continuity even within, or despite, innovation. Horizon was no less sophisticated in its approach, or even look, than was PAN (although PAN was a good deal more adventurous in its employment of new, elaborate print methods). And it demonstrated, once again, the crucial role general-level publications of a progressive bent have played in bringing the avant-garde its audience – a role PAN helped pioneer.


Pan: A Periodical Presaging Postmodernism

By Victoria Martino

The philosophical key to the German periodical Pan, first published in April/May of 1895 in Berlin, lies on its opening page. A fragment of Friedrich Nietzsche's Also Sprach Zarathustra appears beneath a vignette depicting the archetypical images of philosopher's stone, eagle, snake and lion before a radiant noonday sun, surrounded by irises. At the foot of the page is a roundel featuring the noble head of Zarathustra's "hot sun-tiger." Both text and image were clearly chosen for their symbolic significance to the ambitious enterprise embarked upon by the leading figures in the artistic and literary world of Kaiser Wilhelm II's Prussia. Like the legendary prophet Zarathustra, the founders and editors of Pan strove for nothing less than the complete reinvigoration of culture and the confutation of mediocrity and utilitarianism. Fighting on all fronts – graphic, literary, scholarly, and journalistic – they eschewed both trivia and convenience, thereby serving to elevate the techniques and expressive potential of all of these disciplines to unprecedented heights of achievement. Their plan was carefully contrived and meticulously executed, and its success carried the periodical triumphantly to the threshold of the 20th century.

Nietzsche's great manifesto of the "Übermensch" and the will to power had already been completed in 1885. One year after the founding of Pan, the composer Richard Strauss was to pay tribute to the seminal literary work in his monumental tone poem, and Gustav Mahler would employ the famous "Roundelay" of Zarathustra in the 4th movement of his 3rd symphony. British composer Frederick Delius was to follow with a setting of the same text in 1898, expanding it into his Mass of Life in 1904-5. Zarathustra's clarion call to humanity to rise above the morass of cultural degeneracy did not fall upon deaf ears. Particularly in Berlin, Germany's center of both politics and culture, there was a surge of interest in the world outside of Prussia. The intellectual elite maintained a position between tempered nationalist pride and exuberant pan-European wisdom, a synthesis symbolically represented by the philosopher's stone between the eagle and the snake, and further emphasized by the field of irises, images of faith, wisdom and valor. In the view of its cultural leaders, an enlightened German nation was to lead the way like the lion before the midday sun, echoing the final words of the prophet: "I strive after my work. The lion has come, my children are near. Zarathustra is ripe. My day begins. Arise, now arise, great noonday!" One can only speculate as to whether the iris depicted on Joseph Kaspar Sattler's first poster for Pan reflects a similar iconography: leaves curling up like rolls of parchment, three tendrils forming the letters "P," "A," and "N," and traditional gardening tools in the background (rake, scythe, spade, etc.) all point to the values propounded by Nietzsche.

The excerpt of Also Sprach Zarathustra chosen by Pan's editors is one of the most provocative. It deals with the prophet's injunction to the king to annihilate all people who have no image or goal toward which they strive: they are the arch-enemies of all humanity. "It is no longer the time for kings: people no longer deserve to have kings," begins the text. Zarathustra urges the king to destroy even the kings themselves, if they have no ideal to which they aspire. The king recognizes in this defiant statement the opportunity to sentence Zarathustra himself to death, seeing in him the seducer of the people. The prophet taunts him into silence, however: "Kill him if you have the power." The king, looking out of the window, realizes that he is powerless: the people wait for Zarathustra. This example of Nietzsche's characteristic circular reasoning is symbolized by the majestic head of the tiger within the roundel. The tiger represents at once both the will to power and the failure of such. Like the philosopher's "sublime ones," the tiger is impotent until it can jump over its own shadow into its own sunlight. By prominently depicting the tiger as well as the lion and other archetypical animals, the editors of Pan were acknowledging both their aspirations and their limitations, an enlightened revelation fitting for progressive, internationally-minded intellectuals.

At first glance, Pan seems to be characterized by a chaotic mélange of styles and tendencies; no particular artistic or philosophical direction appears to be favored above the others. Historians have postulated that this evident diversity stems from conflicts within the ranks of the periodical's editorial board, as well as influence exerted by the various monied "interest groups" backing the venture (primarily comprising members of the Prussian aristocracy). In fact, they go further to insist that Pan's demise after only five years of production and circulation was due to a lack of coherent purpose driving the publication. Ironically, it is only now, at a time when postmodernism is accepted as a “style” in itself, that the ideals of Pan can be fully recognized and appreciated. This short-lived periodical was a portent of postmodernism, insofar as it embodied the symbiotic juxtapositions of styles and trends in all media. Its creators and champions believed that this flowering of diversity was in itself the hallmark of a new Renaissance. What now is dismissed (with perfect hindsight) by scholars and academics as a capitulation to localized and dated mediocrity on the part of Pan's founders and editors is in fact the very proof of their broad-minded, all-embracing cultural outlook.

Rather than begin with a manifesto of their own, the editors, writer Otto Julius Bierbaum and art historian Julius Meier-Graefe, both men in their twenties, chose the august voice of Nietzsche to proclaim their aims. Only at the back of the first volume, underneath a charming vignette of well-dressed gentlemen in a reading room, all perusing Pan (recognizable by its prominent logo), did they present their apologia of the periodical in a relatively brief editorial, signed, not with their individual names, but simply "D.R.," for "Die Redaktion" (editorial staff). It is notable that their primary order of business was to pay deference to Wilhelm Bode, the grand patriarch of the Prussian art world – the "Bismarck" of art, as he was eventually to be known. The 50-year-old museum director, who had already made his mark on the international art scene through his ubiquitous presence and aggressively ambitious acquisition policies, set forth his own "requirements" for the "Ausstattung" (literally, "outfitting") of an illustrated art periodical in a highly polemical essay published in the initial issue of Pan. Ranting against the tendency for current art publications to "sell out" to the taste of the uneducated masses, he decried their increasing reliance on the sheer novelty of new printing techniques at the expense of any true artistic expression. He referred repeatedly to the "Verwilderung" (return to a wild, savage state) of the "good old techniques" employed by artists since the Renaissance, advocating the adoption of a universally appropriate style that would create unity. Bode exhorted the editors of Pan to pay attention first and foremost to the inclusion of the most outstanding artists of the time, whether German or foreign. He argued that the illustrations would prove to be the principal means of disseminating the periodical, the general public being more inclined to peruse visual images than to read essays and poetry. Having stated this, however, he concluded his remarks with the fervent wish that the publication of Pan would lead to the refinement of the public's taste and the deepening of its artistic understanding.

Bierbaum and Meier-Graefe, while acknowledging Bode's high standards and insistence upon artistic unity and vigilant editing, admitted that they could only honor him in theory; in practice, paradoxically,they found it necessary to contradict his criteria in order truly to fulfill them. Significantly, their editorial was printed facing a decorative full page of gold and black printing on blue paper, featuring the heraldic motto of the arts and crafts guild: "Ehrlich waehrt am laengsten," which can be paraphrased as "honesty is the best policy." An additional, less subtle connection was indicated by the deliberate repetition of the identical "Kunstgewerbe" (applied arts) vignette above Bode's article and on the facing page to the editorial. Using the analogy of interior design, the editors compared the book to a large room in which one would expect to find stylistic unity. In contrast, they likened the illustrated periodical to a house with many rooms, nooks and crannies. Here, they maintained, many different styles could be represented, all contained within the unifying structure of the house itself. Each room would be furnished according to its function. Accordingly, one would not decorate the prayer chapel in a Japanese style any more than one would furnish the lady's bedroom in a stiff, Gothic style. Thus far, Bierbaum and Meier-Graefe were in agreement with Bode regarding the necessity for stylistic unity in the individual details. However, where Bode advocated the employment of the Renaissance typeface as a classic example equally suited to reproductions of the old masters and modern illustrations, even going so far as to recommend that the editors of Pan create facsimiles of the typefaces common to the 15th and 16th centuries, Bierbaum and Meier-Graefe definitively stated that they did not believe that any single style existed that could be used universally with success. They confessed to the necessity of reverting to old forms in the absence of an ideal modern style with the caveat that all styles of the past are viewed historically through the lens of modernity. For example, the Gothic style is regarded as solemn, while the Rococo is considered frivolous. Reminding the reader that each style was considered ordinary and unremarkable in its own time, they proceeded to characterize the various typefaces according to a modern viewpoint: old Schwabach was stolid and powerful, Biblical Gothic solemn, almost religious, French Elzevier graceful and slickly elegant, Dutch Renaissance broadly straddling and healthy. To emphasize their point, the editors postulated that it would appear extremely peculiar if a Norwegian farmers' dance song were set in the graceful Elzevier typeface, or a poem by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the "bauchigen" (literally, "paunchy") Caxton typeface. The same principles held for the juxtaposition of text and image: a drawing by a trendy modern artist would look grotesque surrounded by an Old Franconian Fraktur typeface.

In deference to Bode's explicit wishes, Bierbaum and Meier-Graefe used Renaissance typefaces liberally throughout the first issue of Pan, admitting the fact that they did not consider them characteristic of the material, but, rather, an attempt to maximize the unity of the text portions. They themselves would have preferred the modern German newspaper typeface, except that it already carried the association of being completely ordinary and unremarkable. Life was leveling enough, they argued: why should they accept just "any old" means of expression when they wanted to make an artistic impression? "Everything artistic should all the more joyfully have the courage of nuance," they proclaimed. One could only achieve complete unity in the style of the publication if the content itself was unified. In other words, an issue dedicated to the English Pre-Raphaelites, for example, could be designed uniformly in that style -- from typeface to layout to impression to paper. This would clearly be the approach of a museum director such as Bode, who occupied himself with the most homogeneous installations of original works of art. Bierbaum and Meier-Graefe, while eagerly anticipating a time when both the visual and literary material available for each issue of Pan would be integrally interrelated, pointed out that the current danger of such an approach would be the public's perception that one particular style or trend was favored above another. This implication of prejudice was to be strenuously avoided at all costs, particularly in the early issues of the publication.

The tension between the ideal of a Gesamtkunstwerk on the one hand, and a truly polystylistic, polyglot, pan-European publication on the other, presented the ultimate challenge to Pan's editors. The point of intersection between the two opposing aims lay in the meticulous attention to every detail on every page, combined with an overreaching artistic sensibility for the whole. The reproductive illustrations were printed with the same care and integrity as the original prints themselves, the idea being that the various forms of visual material presented in Pan were of equal instructional, if not aesthetic and commercial value. Bode, in particular, emphasized the importance of accurate reproductive printing techniques for the faithful rendering of original works of art to scholars and art historians. The scope of his vision was enormous: connoisseurs and collectors were to benefit from the exclusive original prints offered in the deluxe editions, art historians were to benefit from the wealth of information available in the scholarly articles, art and poetry lovers were to benefit from the artistic effect of the entire publication as well as the individual contributions, and the general public would benefit from the educational, refining and culture-promoting value of the periodical in all of its manifestations.

The idealism of Pan's editors attracted the best of Europe's artists and writers as contributors. Many of the leading scholars of the day published their latest research and theories in the issues of Pan, thereby establishing a consistent forum for the early pioneering efforts of modern art history. Even the previews and reviews of art exhibitions, recent publications, theater productions, and musical performances throughout Europe were provided by some of the most prominent cultural figures of their time. A characteristic example is Richard Dehmel's commentary on recent artistic achievements in Berlin, published in the first volume of Pan. What would have amounted to a news flash by an ordinary journalist became an eloquent and impassioned rhetorical masterpiece in the hands of the great German poet. Dehmel's reflections on the cultural policy of "his" Berlin could serve as the general manifesto of Pan's founders. "As Goethe would say," he began, "they were words of the utmost significance with which the Prussian Minister of Culture, Herr v. Bosse, opened the Great Berlin Exhibition of 1895, simultaneously heralding the international tendency of the 1896 exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Berlin Art Academy. One heard two sentences which would have sounded like high treason only a few years ago, if they had been uttered by another mouth: 'The relations to the development of art are not restricted by territorial boundaries of the population. The pure joy of seeing the good and the beautiful is common to us all; therefore I heartily welcome here all artists and art works from all countries.' Hopefully, however, in a few years the minister, unhindered by all national or economic politics, will be able to establish that the relations to art are not restricted by social boundaries of the population, and, in addition to the joy of the good and the beautiful, unhindered by all modern or classical aesthetics, he will also be able to lay the truth upon our hearts."

In the final analysis, Pan's greatest contribution was its passionate and unswerving commitment to absolute ideals of beauty and truth in a cultural climate of decadence on the one hand, and complacent mediocrity on the other. Paradoxically, Germany's nihilistic prophet Nietzsche had succeeded in paving the way for an international invigoration of European civilization. Pan stands as a testament to the vision of its "sublime ones" – its creators, founders, editors, and contributors. To open the volumes of this literary and artistic time capsule is to unlock the forgotten treasures of a Pandora's box, the richness of which has only now begun to reveal itself in the all-embracing noonday light of postmodernism.

 

 

Acknowledgements

We are delighted that Robert Flynn Johnson, Curator Emeritus, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Art, San Francisco Museums of Fine Arts, agreed to be the Curator of this exhibition, writing both an introduction and all labels. We are very grateful to Victoria Martino, independent curator and art historian, and Peter Frank, Senior Curator, Riverside Museum and Editor, THE Magazine, Los Angeles, for their insightful essays. We also wish to express sincere thanks to Janice Schopfer, Head of Paper Conservation, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for her professional consultation in the removal of the individual prints in such a way that the journal may, if desired, be reconstituted to its original whole at the end of the exhibition. Finally, we must express gratitude to Eva Kirsch, Director of the Robert V. Fullerton Museum, and John Fleeman, Exhibition Designer, for their intelligent and elegant contributions to this, the premiere viewing in the United States of PAN, A Graphic Arts time Capsule, Europe 1895-1900.

Jeffrey Landau, Landau Traveling Exhibitions Stuart Denenberg, Denenberg Fine Arts, Inc.


- Exhibition List with Images PDF -

- Gallery Guide PDF -