One of the highlights of the popular Art Deco Hawai‘i exhibition are the six murals by Eugene Savage that Matson commissioned in 1938. Though the show’s last day is Jan. 11, museum goers can still see the murals through this summer thanks to Matson.
“People have been asking me if Art Deco Hawai‘i could remain permanently on view,” says Theresa Papanikolas, curator of European and American art and Art Deco Hawai‘i. “We can’t do that, but the requests inspired me to ask Matson if they would extend the loan. Matson and I both agreed that it’s a good thing—it gives the community to opportunity to see this important aspect of Hawai‘i’s visual culture.”
Papanikolas says that visitors to the exhibition have had a palpable reaction to the Savage paintings. “These are originals of images that many Hawai‘i residents have seen all their lives. It’s really gratifying to see the emotional impact the works have on people as they walk into the gallery.”
Does Papanikolas have a favorite? “I love them all,” she says. “I like the tension between the identifiable historical artifacts and the outlandish impossible situation in which they’re placed. My favorite example is Island Feast—the chief looks a little drunk and even the pig about to be roasted is smiling.”
Eugene Savage (American, 1883-1978)
Island Feast (detail), 1940
Oil on canvas