Vermeer on the Beach

Laguna Beach's Pageant of the Masters is the Louvre of re-enactments. Volunteer actors portray famous artworks in painted stage sets. This year's offerings include simulacra of Vermeer's The Music Lesson and works by Leonardo da Vinci, Eadward Muybridge, Georges Seurat, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Malvina Hoffman, Salvador Dali, and Norman Rockwell. In one of this summer's favored descriptors, it's camp. In Walter Benjamin's terminology, it's art minus aura.

For many contemporary artists, re-enactment is a way to disrupt art history and its timeline of white male genii. The Pageant of the Masters is nominally a celebration of your father's canon, yet like any successful re-enactment it achieves an ineffable sense of the uncanny. It deserves to be more broadly known.


Anonymous said…
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be sort of a full-time, year-round variation of the nature of the pageant in Laguna Beach. A setting and format not so much for art mavens with their noses in the air, or certain people who are ruining LACMA, but more for the so-called hoi-polloi.