Henry B. Christian (American, 1883–1953)
Cover design for Paradise of the Pacific, 1929
Collection Michael and Linda Horikawa
Now on view is Art Deco Hawai‘i— local visitors are finding all kinds of connections to the artwork, whether it’s remembering a childhood trip on the Lurline or seeing references to everyday life, like this painting. It’s not the subject matter that is “everyday life,” but what it was used for—Henry Christian created this watercolor as a cover for Paradise of the Pacific—now Honolulu Magazine, a familiar sight every time we stand in line at the supermarket (and media sponsor of our ARTafterDARK events!).
Much of Hawai‘i Art Deco reflects popular perceptions and promotional strategies associated with the islands that had been developing since shortly after the region’s annexation as a United States Territory in 1898. With territorial status came the need to establish Hawai‘i as a destination open to even the most exacting traveler. In 1902, in an effort to attract visitors, inform potential residents, and generally lay the groundwork for Hawai‘i’s emergence as a modern economy, a group of civic boosters formed the Hawaii Promotion Committee, which, on the pages of its monthly magazine, Paradise of the Pacific, mapped out a strategy to lure mainlanders to island shores.
By the 1920s, Paradise of the Pacific, was a lavishly illustrated, glossy publication that informed visitors and residents about local culture, told colorful anecdotes about Hawai‘i, and offered advice on home décor and proper attire in the islands. It also employed numerous artists, including the illustrator Henry B. Christian, whose picture of chiefs preparing for battle was reproduced on the magazine’s cover in 1929.