Friday, July 13, 2007

The Velaslavaskay Panorama in Los Angeles will be unveiling their new panoramic work, The Effulgence of the North, at a reception July 21.

I had no idea such a place existed in Los Angeles, until receiving notice of this event. But it sounds like a wonderful place, and a great use of their location, the historic Union Theatre. I do encounter references to panoramas and moving panoramas from time to time; I read an article awhile back about the restoration of the Gettysburg Cyclorama, and Paul Collins opens his book, Banvard's Folly, with a discussion of John Banvard, creator of a moving panorama depicting the Mississippi River, who rose to international super-stardom and great wealth through the art form (that a man so world-renowned could so quickly become virtually unknown is an adequate thumbnail of Collins' point in his book).

The phenomenon of these panoramas is hard for me to fathom, from my modern perspective; a forerunner to motion pictures, these panoramic displays served a similar role, a century earlier, to that of the cinema, yet they seem so different, the panoramic paintings conveying their narrative by capturing a single moment. The experience seems more like a trip to the museum, yet the impression I get is that it was much more like going to a show. Like the artifacts of early cinema--silent films and historic theatres--the panoramas have by and large not survived. And this art form seems like something that really needs to be appreciated in person, to understand the scale of the spectacle. So I am excited to learn that there is one (albeit of modern provenance) on display not far away. And if seeing a panorama up-close doesn't help me understand how a 19th-century audience approached such works, perhaps a presentation at the grand unveiling regarding Albert Smith's moving panorama "Ascent of Mont Blanc" will assist. There will also be Bavarian refreshments, alpenhorns and yodeling, so truly something for everyone. I am very excitedly awaiting July 21st.

A Smithsonian article on the Velaslavaskay Panorama getting the boot from their old digs.

An L.A. Voice profile of the Panorama in its new location (photos at the bottom, though not of the painting itself).

You can get a glimpse of their previous mural, from their old location, here.

Thanks to the Museum of Jurassic Technology for bringing this to my attention.

And if I may leave you with a quote from the event invitation: In this glorious Year of the Fire Pig, may you and those around you burn brightly with the gladsome light of contentment.

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