September 13, 2018
January 27, 2019
Honolulu Museum of Art
Ho‘oulu: The King Kalākaua Era considers art and experimentation in the Hawaiian Kingdom during the reign of King David Kalākaua (1874–1891). Cosmopolitanism—the idea that local polities share systemic parallels internationally as part of a world citizenry—was a thriving philosophy in the Hawaiian Kingdom, and it was expressed through art.
People in Hawai‘i developed a visual language that merged art and politics, and that presented local iterations of global art styles. They expanded an existing visual culture using a combination of indigenous and introduced materials, concepts, and techniques. The show features experimental art works alongside academic art works to explore how both the avant-garde and the academic were deployed in the shaping of a national identity.
The exhibition prompts conversations about issues of adaptability, economy, ceremony, and, more important, gets at underlying perceptions about the Hawaiian place in the world at turn of the century. It also challenges ideas about tradition, modernity, and culture in Hawai‘i through the collection and loaned works.
The exhibition is accompanied by a lavish catalog and a full slate of programming by PA‘I Foundation that will be announced soon.
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