The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons
The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons

Art From the 1893 World’s Fair Was Found in a Chicago Storage Facility

The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons
The Field Museum Library via Wikimedia Commons

During Industrialization, World’s Fairs became the hottest places to showcase art and technology from across the globe. In 1893, the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago hosted exhibits from Nicola Tesla and Thomas Edison, debuted Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Juicy Fruit Gum, and became the site of the world’s first Ferris Wheel. Most of the architecture and artwork from the fair is gone for good, but three original pieces have just resurfaced.

The three intricate, carved Japanese sliding doors were discovered in a Chicago storage facility operated by the Park District. They depict two large, colorful birds and a smaller white bird against a vivid gold background.


Japan was one of many countries to construct buildings on the fairgrounds, as a way of showcasing Japanese art and architecture. The doors seem to have come from an installation called the Ho-o-den or "Hall of the Phoenix," and were made by a Japanese artist by the name of Hashimoto Gaho. In his photographic record of the fair, Stanley Applebaum described the Japan pavilion as “the first real introduction of Japanese architecture to the Midwest.”

An essay published the year after the fair opened dedicates a section to the fair’s Ho-o-den, and even appears to describe the newly discovered doors:

"The painting on the wall of the central room, depicting male and female phoenixes at play with their young, is by Professor Hashimoto, of the Tokyo Fine Art School, and his pupils. It is emblematic of the peaceful reign of the Tokugawa Shoguns... a period extending from the beginning of the seventeenth century down to the restoration when the present Emperor came into power in 1868."

A rare photograph of the building’s interior from the essay helped experts identify the pieces as the real thing.

The grounds of the Columbian Exposition were designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect behind Central Park. The gorgeous layout and architecture of the fair is thought by many to be the inspiration behind the Emerald City in L. Frank Baum’s classic novels. When designing the grounds, Olmsted thought to put an island in the fair’s artificial lagoon that would offer visitors an escape from the over-stimulation. At the center of this Wooded Island stood the Japan pavilion.

While the Wooded Island is still around today, the pavilion along with most of the exposition’s architecture is long gone. In order to restore the pieces of Japanese art, the city of Chicago plans to collaborate with the Art Institute where they’ll likely go on display.

[h/t: Gizmodo]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Sophie Gamand
arrow
Art
This Photographer Is Changing People's Perceptions of Pit Bulls, One Flower Crown at a Time
Sophie Gamand
Sophie Gamand

Like many people, Sophie Gamand wasn’t always the biggest fan of pit bulls. As a volunteer photographer for animal shelters, she used to tense up any time she saw one.

And then something changed. In 2014, the New York-based photographer decided to confront her fear and take on a project that would force her to interact with pit bulls, My Modern Met reports. Initially, she wanted to see for herself if pit bulls were really as dangerous as people claim they are, and what she learned surprised her.

She “discovered the sweet and gentle nature of pit bulls, and how obedient and eager to please they are,” Gamand tells Mental Floss. “They are goofy, loving, and very attached to people.”

Equipped with her new mindset, she decided to photograph the dogs individually with colorful flower crowns adorning their heads in hopes of challenging the public's perception of pit bulls. And it worked.

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

Gamand says animal shelter staff often tell her that her photos, which she posts on social media with a brief description of each dog's personality, have saved countless dogs from being euthanized and have helped many others find forever homes. “They have helped dogs get adopted who had had zero interest for months or even years,” she says.

Over the last few years, she has photographed over 400 pit bulls, and her images will be published in a forthcoming coffee table book titled Pit Bull Flower Power: The Book. It will be released in October for Pit Bull Awareness Month.

She says the stereotype of pit bulls being overly aggressive is “completely unfounded,” adding that genetics have little to no influence on a dog’s personality. What makes the difference, though, is proper care and training, which is why she’s dedicating her life’s work to helping the dogs find loving homes.

Plus, the dogs love the photo shoots. "These are all shelter dogs who spend most of their time in a cage," Gamand says. "They are so happy for all the attention, treats, and love they get on the shoot. They love nothing more than to be good boys and girls—learning tricks, sitting to get a cookie. It’s their special moment. Each shoot is a team effort between the handler, the dog, and myself."

Her photos have spread far and wide via social media, and she now receives requests to visit animal shelters all over the world, from India to Kuwait to China. Prior to Pit Bull Flower Power, Gamand’s first book, Wet Dog—which features, you guessed it, adorable dripping dogs—was published in 2015.

Keep scrolling to see more of Gamand's Flower Power series, and check out this project and others on her Instagram page and website.

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

A pit bull with a flower crown
Sophie Gamand

[h/t My Modern Met]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Christie's
arrow
Art
A Rare Copy of Audubon's Birds of America Could Break Records at Auction
Christie's
Christie's

American artist and naturalist John James Audubon published The Birds of America in the first half of the 19th century, and his massive “double-elephant” folio of life-size bird illustrations remains one of the most ambitious nature books ever produced. On June 14, a rare edition of the four-book set is hitting the auction block, and it's expected to fetch up to $12 million—more than any Audubon book ever sold.

This edition of The Birds of America was owned by the dukes of Portland from around 1839 to 2012. Because it was stored on the shelves of the family's Nottinghamshire, England estate for nearly a century, the set's prints of watercolor drawings have remained remarkably well-preserved.

In 2012, the copy was auctioned off to philanthropist and businessman Carl W. Knobloch, Jr. for nearly $8 million. Knobloch donated the books to the Knobloch Family Foundation (KFF) before his death in 2016. Now, the KFF is sending the books to auction once again. This time, all proceeds of the sale will go to nature conservation.

Set of red leather-bound books.

New York City auction house Christie's describes the set in a listing as "among the finest copies in private hands of this icon of American art, and the finest color-plate book ever produced." Each of the 435 double-elephant folio pages measures 39.5 inches by 26.5 inches, the largest sheets Audubon could get his hands on at the time, and they feature 1037 birds from 500 species. The books are bound in red Moroccan leather with gold detailing on the borders and spines. The four-volume set also comes with the Ornithological Biography, a collection of five books describing the specimens in The Birds of America and their habits.

Christie's estimates the set will sell for $8 million to $12 million when the final bid is placed later this month. To date, the most expensive copy of The Birds of America was a first edition acquired from Sotheby's in London for $11.5 million. That sale also broke the record for the most expensive printed book ever sold at auction, a record held until 2013.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American bird.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

Illustration of American birds.

All images courtesy of Christie's

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios