Theatre Design & Technology - May 1969 - 23

Pendleton, Ralph (Editor). THE THEATRE OF ROBERT
EDI\ OND JO ES. Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan
University Press, 1958. The largest and most comprehensive collection available of Jones' drawings for
the theatre. Fifty-two drawings and eight photographs
of sketches and settings for Lute Song, plus several
line drawings and insignias. A deluxe edition includes
three color plates.
(Anonymous), "Robert Edmond Jones: Designer for
the Theatre," American Artist, June, 1958, 52 ff.
An unsigned picture anicle on Jones, inspired by the
Jones retrospective exhIbition at the Whitney Galleries in New York in 1958, which later toured
America under the auspices of the American Federation of Art. The short text is made UP of quotes from
Larson, Orville K., "Robert Edmond Jones' King
Henry VIII," Players Magazine 73, December,
1960, 52-4. A short explanation of the production
Jones designed for the late Billy Rose in 1944 that
unfortunately was ne er produced. The sixteen settings Jones created for this production are among he
ery best he ever created. Eight drawings are reproduced for this article.
B. The Exhibitions: Catalogues and Reviews
Jones participated in many exhibitions of stage
designs during his lifetime. His one man show
in 1920 was the first ever given an American
scene designer, and he had three more during
his career. In addition, he contributed to three
other important exhibitions. Since his death
there have been several retrospective and
commerative exhibits of which the Whitney
show in 1958 vvas the most extensive.

It should be noted that Jones, perhaps because
of his formal education at Harvard as a painter,
always referred to his designs as "drawings
for the theatre," and they were always ex·
hibited as such. Even the Jones retrospective
at the Whitney in 1958 treated his designs as
an exhibit of pen and ink and water color
drawings, not as stage designs . .. indications
of ideas to be transformed into reality on the
stage. Production photographs of his settings,
the meager few that were included, were
barred from the galleries and relegated to the
walls of the stairwell entrance to the second
floor galleries.
Macgowan, Kenneth, "Art Exhibition of Stage De·
signs," Theatre Magazine XXI, January, 1915,28 ff.
Macgowan reviews America's first exhibition of the
"new stagecraft," presented during the month of
November in 1914, in a vacant store on Fifth Avenue
in New York. The exhibit of original designs and
photographs was organized by Samuel J. Hume who
presented it first in Cambridge, Mass. the previous
summer. After the New York showing the exhibit
toured America attracting great crowds wherever it
was shown. Jones contributed several designs he had
created while in Europe. During the New York showing Jones lectured daily on the model of the European kuppelhorizont which Hume had built for the exhibit. This model plaster dome was equipped with a
miniature lighting system designed by Monroe Pevear,
which Jones demonstrated to viewers. Hume, Urban,
Craig, Bakst, and several of Max Reinhardt's designers exhibited as well as Jones.
(Anonymous). "National Society of Craftsman Exhibition of Stage and Costume Designs," Theatre Arts
Magazine II, December, 1916, 12. An unsigned review of the exhibit of scene and costume designs and
costumes at the Galleries of the National Society of
Craftsman in New York, November, 1916. Jones contributed several designs, along with those of Willy
Pogany, Raymond Johnson, and John Wenger.
Jones also panicipated in an exhibition of stage
sellings and costumes at the Arden Galleries
ew York, February, 1917, together with
Raymond Johnson and Woodman Thompson.
Announcements of the exhibit appeared in The
Craftsman and Theatre Arts Magazine but it
apparently was never reviewed_
AMERICAN STAGE DESIG S. New York: Theatre Ans,
Inc., 1919.


MAY, 1969

A catalogue, with illustrations listing the
models, drawings and photographs of stage
designs exhibited at the Bourgeois Galleries in
New York, April 5-26, 1919. This was the
first comprehensi e attempt to surve the wor
of American stage designers of the "new
stagecraft," on Broadway and in the art thea·
tres throughout the country. The catalogue included an initialed Prefatory Note by Sheldon
Cheney, committee chairman, and statements
of aesthetics principles and faith by panicipating designers which included Maxwell Armfield, Micheal C. Carr, Norman Bel·Geddes, Lee
Simonson, Blandong Sloan, Joseph Urban,
John Wenger, as well as Robert Edmond
Jones contributed a shon statement, "Fashions
In the Theatre." Kenneth Macgowan's e aluation, "The New Path of lhe Theatre," assays
the movement up to the time of the exhibit.
acgowan declares that the modern stage art
(in 1919), is based upon Gordon Craig's principles of simplification, suggestion, and synthesis, and he cites Jones' opening selling
for the Arthur Hopkins production of The
Devil's Garden, as an excellent example of
the perfect fusion of these three principles.
The entire catalogue appeared simultaneously
in Theatre Arts Magazine III, April, 1919.
Macgowan's article and the statements of the
designers are included in THEATRE ARTS
ANTHOLOGY. New York: Theatre Ans Books,
Inc., 1950, 386-400. "New Path of the
Theatre" is also reprinted in SCE E DESIGN
(Editor). East Lansing: Michigan State Univesity Press, 1961, 16-24.

Corbin, John, "Sanity and Stage Selling," New York
Times, April 20,1919, IV, 2. A review of the Bourgeois exhibit by the drama critic of the New York
Times, indicating a growing recognition by the newspaper critics of the profession. Corbin believes that
most of the American scene designers are influenced
by the theories of Gordon Craig, although he calls
Craig a most impractical theatre artist. (Incidentally,
Corbin evaluates Craig in a lew paragraphs more suc·
cinctly than Lee Simonson did in his lengthly and
vehement diatribe in THE STAGE IS SET, New York,
1932). Corbin comments upon the designers creed
of self-abnegation, quoting from their statements in
the catalogue. He evaluates the Arthur Hopkins pro·
duction of The Jest which opened on Broadway,
three days after the opening of the Bourgeois exhibition.
(Anonymous). "Grouping Toward a ew Scenic Art
in the American Theatre," Current Opinion 66,
May, 1919,301-2. This unsigned commentary on the
Bourgeois exhibil recognizes this show as an indica·
tion of the growing influence of the designers upon
the American theatre and indicates solid recognition
of the profession on Broadway. Jones is quoted as
saying, "The problem of the designer is the problem
of making the drama live before the actor."
Jones, Roben Edmond, STAGE DESIGNS. With
"Robert Edmond Jones, A Comment on His Work,"
by Percy Mackaye. New York: Bourgeois Galleries,
1920. Catalogue of Jones' first one-man show, at
the Bourgeois Galleries, New York, May 1·20, 1920.
This is the first significant one·man show of an
American designer to receive national attention. The
exhibit included thirty·eight drawings, nine illustrations, and three models of stage settings. Mackaye,
wi h whom Jones had worked on several of
Mackaye's pageants and masques, comments in high·
flown language on his association with "this artist of
our native soil."
Saylor, Oliver, "Roben Edmond Jones, Artist of the
Theatre," New Republic 23, June, 1920, 122·3. In
his review of Jones' exhibit at the Bourgeois, Saylor
comments that it was Jones, not foreign influences,
who was most responsible for the change in the
visual aspects of American theatre production. Saylor
says he believes Jones' designs are becoming more
and more symbolistic in nature, an unintentional
prophecy, perhaps, forecasting Jones' purely abstract
designs for the highly controversial production of
Macbeth in 1921.

Jones, Robert Edmond, EXHIBITION OF STAGE DESIGNS. With an Introduction by Stark Young. New
York: BourgeOIs Galleries, 1925. Catalogue of Jones'
second one-man show at the Bourgeois Galleries,
York, October 17·31, 1925. The exhibit In·
cluded thirt ·seven designs and one model of a stage
selling. The catalogue includes a chronology of all of
Jones' work to date.
In his Introduction, Stark Young says of Jones' designs, "These drawings-are designs that at their
best assume the fortunes lhat the dramatist has al·
lOlled to him and that express them, carrying radiantly
the necessary essence of the idea. Each of these
drawings furthers and reveals the meaning of the
characters and the event, and convey the shock of
their vilality; they sing the dramatist's song. But they
sing the singer, too. He creates within the pan assigned to him."
Reprint of the Introduction to the catalogue for Jones'
second one·man show at the Bourgeois Galleries in
1925, which constituted Young's critical reviewo the
McBride, Henry, "Bobby Jones and the
ew Stage
Picture," Literary Digest 87,
ovember II, 1925,
27·8. Another review of Jones' exhibition at the
Bourgeois Galleries in 1925, one which apparently
had a great impact upon Jones' aesthetics of scene
design, because in his review, McBride calls Jones'
designs "intangible evocations." In his later writings,
Jones was frequently fond of describing a stage
setting as an "evocation," a term that he had seldom
used previously.
Jones, Robert Edmond, EXHIBITIO OF STAGE DE·
ew York: Bourgeois Galleries, 1932. Cata·
logue of Jones' third one-man show at the Bourgeois
Galleries, March 5·26, 1932. The thirty-seven de·
signs in the show included two for giant puppets he
designed for Oedipus Rex in 1932, and one stage
model. The catalogue contains an unsigned introduc·
tion (probably by Bourgeois himself), the list of designs, three illustrations and forty· eight chronological
Young, Stark, "Return and Exhibition," New Republic 70, March 23, 1932, 153-4. In his review of
this exhibition, Stark Young points out that "Nothing
could illustrate more clearly the difference between
the art of visual design in the theatre and the art of
painting. For the nist, in his highest moments, intrusive corporeal reality-the actual objects, the
scene-is diluted and subtilized until it becomes the
picture, the dream. This is the point where most ar·
tists stop. Their picture is created, it is now in pigment, actual and complete. In an artist like
Robert Edmond Jones, the picture has not yet at this
point become actual; it is a form that exists as yet
only within him. This form then, in its turn, loses its
vitality and becomes a mere symbol, a sheer going
forward of the mind, and for it he creates his form.
Through this process, I think, his work, at its best,
comes to be impalable, as if spirit found in light, a
body so strong in its intention and so unforgettable."
Amberg, George, "Exhibition of Stage Designs by
Robert Edmond Jones," Dance Index IV, April, 1945,
56. A long announcement of a one-man show, retrospective in character, of Jones' work, at the Museum
of Modern Art, New York, April 11-June 24, 1945.
The exhibit included sixty designs, two of which he
designed for color motion pictures while he was in
Hollywood. A catalogue was not issued. The exhibition was arranged in a basement gallery of the Museum and Jones was very, very much disturbed that
he was "shown in the basement."
In addition to his four one-man shows in New
York, Robert Edmond Jones participated in the
following three significant exhibitions of stage



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