Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Irving Gill's Sherman Flats, Echo Park, 1913

While researching for an essay on Irving Gill's influence on the evolution of modern architecture in Los Angeles I became fascinated by mentions of his Sherman Flats (aka Echo Park Flats) in the back matter of both the Kamerling and Hines books. Having never seen images of the project I dug a little deeper. Nailing down the exact location of the flats at the northeast corner of Park Ave. and Lemoyne St. via the historical building permits led me to the below photos which shed much light on Gill's progression. 

Sherman Flats, 1725-7 Park Ave., 1104-16 Lemoyne St. Irving Gill, architect, 1913. From Hollywood Historic Photos.

The beginning of 1913 was arguably the busiest time of Irving Gill's illustrious career. While he was buried in work at the Industrial City of Torrance he was concurrently receiving commissions in Los Angeles. On January 27th, while in the middle of construction on a residence for Friday Morning Club leader Ella Giles Ruddy and just days before also breaking ground on the contiguous Sarah B. Clark and Myra N. Brochon residences, construction began on the eight-unit Sherman Flats Gill designed for entrepreneur and real estate developer E. Goodell Sherman. (For much more on Gill's houses for  Myrah Brochon and Sarah Clark, his first Aiken System project, see my "Sarah B. Clark Residence: Irving Gill's First Aiken System Project." For more on Gill's Ruddy House see my "Ella Giles Ruddy House, Irving Gill, Architect, 1913").

Center, Angelus Temple, 1100 Glendale Blvd., William Wheeler, architect. Dedicated New Years Day, 1923. Right, Flats for E. Goodell Sherman, 1725-27 Park Ave. and 1104-16 Lemoyne St., right. Irving Gill, architect, completed in 1913. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Building upon his 1910 Lewis Court work in Sierra Madre and concurrent workers housing experimentation in Torrance, the elegance of the Sherman Flats site plan is striking indeed. The project definitely presages his 1920-21 Horatio West Court in Santa Monica seen below.

 Horatio West Court Apartments, 140 Hollister Street, Santa Monica. Irving Gill, architect. From Historic American Building Survey, Library of Congress.

 Flats for E. Goodell Sherman, 1725-27 Park Ave. and 1104-16 Lemoyne St., right. Irving Gill, architect, completed in 1913. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.

Angelus Temple, 1100 Glendale Blvd., William Wheeler, architect. Dedicated New Years Day, 1923. Left center, Flats for E. Goodell Sherman, 1725-27 Park Ave. and 1104-16 Lemoyne St., right. Irving Gill, architect, completed in 1913. From Hollywood Historic Photos.

Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson was also attracted to the intersection across the street from Echo Park Lake where in 1921 she commissioned architect William Wheeler to design her Angelus Temple across the street from the striking Gill-Sherman compound. Fascinatingly, McPherson purchased the two-story Gill-designed flat located at 1112 Lemoyne St. across the street from her below Temple residence and had Wheeler do some interior remodeling in 1928. (More on the circumstances surrounding McPherson's purchase of 1112 Lemoyne to come later. Stay tuned.). (City of Los Angeles Building Permit No, 3253, February 3, 1928).

McPherson Residence and Bible School, northwest corner of Park and Lemoyne, Echo Park. From Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection.




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Oskar Kokoschka at the Panama Pacific International Exposition

(Click on images to enlarge)
(Moore, Charles, Official Catalog of Exhibitors, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California, 1915.

The above catalog lists the titles of the 16 portraits by Oskar Kokoschka that Adolf Loos was credited for lending to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition's Department of Fine Arts Exhibition held in Bernard Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts (see below) throughout 1915. From this I was able to reconstruct what was Kokoschka's first exhibited work in the United States. Loos was very close friends with Kokoschka and provided him much patronage by commissioning portraits and soliciting friends to do the same. He also did all he could to promote the troubled artist's career. I am beginning to learn how this amazing loan came about and would appreciate any further insight on this.

Palace of Fine Arts, Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Bernard Maybeck, architect. Photo by R. M. Schindler, fall 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.

Palace of Fine Arts Exhibition Floor Plan, Moore, Charles, Official Catalog of Exhibitors, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California, 1915.

Kokoschka's work was hung in the International Section which was assigned to Galleries 108, 121 and 143 (see floor plan above). Much of the International Section was arranged by Mr. J. Nilsen Laurvik, Special Representative of the Department of Fine Arts. He made a an exhaustive European scouting trip and rounded up hundreds of art works on behalf of the Exposition. Laurvik had two years earlier published a fascinating critique of the infamous Armory Show in New York (see below) which positioned himself to head up the search for like-minded work for the Exposition's massive Palace of Fine Arts exhibition. (I am trying to learn where and when he might have met Loos and Kokoschka and would appreciate any leads).

Is It Art? Post-Impressionism, Futurism, Cubism by J. Nilsen Laurvik, International Press, New York, 1913.

No. 307, "Architect Adolf Loos,"  1909.

No. 308, "Dr. Egon Wellez," 1911. 

No. 309, "Peter Altenberg," 1909.

No. 310, "Portrait of the Artist," (Self-portrait), 1913.

No. 311, "Emma Veronica Sanders" (aka "Doctor Emma Veronika Sanders"), 1909.  

No. 312, "Dr. Von Webern, Composer," 1914.

No. 313, "Angora Cat," date unknown.

No. 314, Paul Scheerbaut, 1910.

No. 315, "Dr. Verona" (aka "Conte Verona"), 1910.

No. 316, "Dr. de Jankosky" (aka "Ludwing Ritter von Janikowsky"), 1909.

No. 317, "Mrs. H" (aka "Martha Hirsch" and "Dreaming Woman"), 1909.

No. 318, "Mrs. Adolf Loos" (Bessie Bruce), 1910.

No. 319, "Two Children" (aka "Children Playing"), 1909.

No. 320, "Italian Lady" (aka "Lady in Red"?), 1910.

No. 321, "Child in the Hands of Father and Mother," (aka "Child in the Hands of its Parents"), 1909.

No. 621, "Karl Kraus," 1909.

This was indeed a wonderful exhibition of Kokoschka's work made possible by the patronage of Adolf Loos and Laurvik's relentless scouting efforts. I hope the upcoming exhibition "Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-PacificInternational Exposition" at the de Young Museum this fall will includes some of the above paintings. I intend to do some further research to learn how the sitters of the above portraits fit into the lives of Kokoschka, Loos and their circles in 1910s Vienna. I would also love to find some Schindler and Neutra connections as they came into Loos's orbit during this period. Stay tuned. 

See also my companion piece from yesterday "Adolf Loos, Oskar Kokoschka and the Panama-PacificInternational Exposition" in which I reference Schindler's reverence for Karl Kraus (see above). (For much more on the Schindlers and Kraus see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler, Taliesin, to Eugene Debs, Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, August 22, 1920").




Monday, July 13, 2015

Adolf Loos, Oskar Kokoschka and the Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Adolf Loos's love affair with "Amerika" is well documented but very little is known of the 17 portraits he commissioned over the years from his very close friend Oskar Kokaschka and loaned to the art exhibition on display in Bernard Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts at the Panama-Pacific Exposition throughout 1915 (see below for example). I have not yet determined how Loos became involved with the Exposition's art exhibition but I serendipitously learned of his loan of the Kokaschka portraits while trying to determine if he had ever visited San Francisco. Performing an "Adolf Loos San Francisco" Google search immediately turned up the exhibition catalog referencing his Koschka loan. (Moore, Charles, Official Catalog of Exhibitors, Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California, 1915, pp. 65-66). 

(Click on images to enlarge)
Adolf Loos, 1909. Oskar Kokaschka 

Oskar Koschka, ca. 1909. From Universitat fur angewandte Kunst, Vienna via The Looshaus by Christopher Long, Yale University Press, 2011, p. 55. 

Palace of Fine Arts, Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Bernard Maybeck, architect. Photo by R. M. Schindler, fall 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.

Loos made a formative sojourn to the U.S.A. between 1893 and 1896 but I could find no mention of San Francisco being part of his itinerary during his stay. If he had visited the West Coast he would certainly have been struck, as I was, by A. C. Schweinfurth's 1896 Hearst Building, home of the San Francisco Examiner, and M. H. de Young's Chonicle Building across the street completed by Burnham & Root in 1889. He would already have been well versed in the Chicago-based firm's work and would have noted its structural similarities with the Monadnock Building.  Upon completion of the nearby Spreckels Call Building in 1898 the complex intersection of Third, Market, Geary and Kearney Streets became known as "Newspaper Angle" (see below).

The intersection of 3rd, Market, Geary and Market Streets aka "Newspaper Angle," downtown San Francisco. From Google Maps.

Hearst Building, 1896. A. C. Schweinfurth, architect. "The Later Work of A. C. Schweinfurth, 1864-1900," Architectural Review, March 1902, p. 81. 

If he did not make it to San Francisco Loos possibly would have run across photos of A. C. Scweinfurth's design which appeared in the Architectural Review in 1902 (see above). Schweinfurth also made a two-year European visit between 1898 and 1900 and perhaps crossed paths with Loos at some point.  Preceding his Goldman and Salatsch Building design by 15 years, Schweinfurth's "Newspaper Angle" structure bears striking similarities, both in facade and hexagonal lot configuration, to Loos's 1911 Michaelerplatz edifice. 

Goldman and Salatsch Building, aka "Looshaus" nearing completion, Michaelerplatz, Vienna, 1911. From Long, p. 118. 

Michaelerplatz, Vienna, Austria. From Google Maps.

San Francisco Chronicle Building, 1889. Burnham and Root, architects.

Preceding Schweinfurth's Hearst Building on "Newspaper Angle" was M. H. de Young's San Francisco Chronicle Building completed by Chicago architects Burnham and Root in 1889 (see above). The building was San Francisco's first skyscraper at a height of 160 ft. Daniel Burnham also had visions of erecting a much taller building than Schweinfurth's on the Hearst property but it did not come to pass (see below). (John Wellborn Root, Architect by Harriet Monroe, Prairie School Press, 1966, p. 148).

San Francisco Examiner Building (project), Burnham and Root, architects. (Ibid, p. 138).

Filling out the "Angle" was the 1898 San Francisco Call Building (see below) designed by the Reid Brothers, formerly of San Diego. After first designing for the Spreckels the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, the Reid Brothers had essentially become their family architects after their 1892-3 move to San Francisco. Here they also designed for the Spreckels several mansions, the Spreckels Car House and the 1899 Spreckels Music Concourse in Golden Gate Park which presaged the Spreckels Organ Pavilion for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The 315 ft. high steel-framed Call Building was for years the tallest building west of Chicago, almost doubling the height of Burnham & Root’s Chronicle Building. (Author's note: After the Reid Brothers moved to San Francisco ca. 1892-3, soon-to-be Irving Gill partner William S. Hebbard took over their remaining San Diego projects. Coincidentally Hebbard also apprenticed for two years with Burnham and Root in upon his graduation from Cornell in 1887.).

San Francisco Call Building, Reid Brothers, architects, 1898.

Palace of Fine Arts, Panama Pacific International Exposition, 1915. Bernard Maybeck, architect. Photo by R. M. Schindler, fall 1915. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara Art Museum, Architecture and Design Collections, Schindler Collection.

Besides his own portrait seen at the beginning of this article, other known portraits in the Palace of Fine Arts (see above) exhibition included his and Kokaschka's very close mutual friends Karl Kraus, Egon Wellesz, and Peter Altenberg. The catalog identified the other portraits only as Mr. X no.s 1-13. One can make educated guesses as to whom some of the others might have been from various Loos biographies such as Christopher Long's The Looshaus which delves into Loos's lifelong patronage of Kokaschka. In fact Loos most likely commissioned most, if not all, of the portraits for this important exhibition, the first to include Kokaschka and this sort of Expressionistic work on the West Coast.

Karl Kraus, Oskar Kokaschka.

I have not yet determined whether Loos's protege R. M. Schindler knew that Kokaschka's portraits of his mentor and his close friends would be on display when he visited the Exposition in the fall of 1915. If not, imagine his surprise when he walked into the Gallery where the portraits were on display. Like Loos, Schindler had an extreme reverence for Karl Kraus (see above) after being exposed to his lectures by his mentor. He most likely was also acquainted with the others on display via Loos. (For much more on both of the Schindler's reverence for Kraus see my "Pauline Gibling Schindler, Taliesin, to Eugene Debs, Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, August 22, 1920." For much more on Schindler's visit to the Exposition see my "Edward Weston and Mabel Dodge Luhan Remember D. H. Lawrenceand Selected Carmel-Taos Connections").

Egon Wellesz, 1909. Oskar Koschka.

Peter Altenberg, 1909. Oskar Kokaschka.

R. M. Schindler, untitled, Schindler Papers, UC-Santa Barbara via The Blue Four Collection at the Norton Simon Museum, edited by Vivian Endicott Barnett, Yale University Press, 2002, p. 471.

Schindler was certainly inspired by Kokaschka, Egon Schiele and others in their Secessionist circles evidenced by what remains of his own drawings in his papers at UC-Santa Barbara and the Galka Scheyer Collection (see above and below for example). 

R. M. Schindler, "Trickling Hands," 1914-17. Gift of the artist to Galka Scheyer, 1927. From Barnett, p. 471.

Chicago Tribune Tower Competition entry, Adolf Loos, 1922. From Adolf Loos by Alessandra Coppa, 24 Ore Cultura, 2013, p. 103.

The 1922 Chicago Tribune Tower competition was also being closely followed by Schindler and fellow Loos protege Richard Neutra. They would have gotten the likely joke intended by Loos over his entry based upon their knowledge of Loos's idol Louis Sullivan's loathing of the Doric column. (For much more on this see my "R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra and Louis Sullivan's"Kindergarten Chats").

This piece is just a placeholder for a much more in-depth essay which I hope evolves as I learn more through future research. As always I would greatly appreciate any feedback and leads to help expand this article. I will be posting new material as I uncover it so stay tuned.