Panoramas at Forest Lawn
|Guan Rong, Oswaldo Gonzalez, Erik Newman, and Sara Velas, The Grand Moving Mirror of California, 2010. Collection of the Velaslavasay Panorama, Los Angeles|
Today's immersive pop-up attractions have their roots in panoramas. As patented by Irish artist-inventor Robert Barker in 1787, a panorama is an immense circular painting, with the viewers in the middle. Spanning the entire field of vision, the painted surface simulates the experience of being somewhere else in space and time. Like "Immersive van Gogh," panoramas were hugely popular while having a problematic relationship to so-called real art. These paradoxes are productively revisited in a new exhibition at the at the Forest Lawn Museum, Glendale, "Grand Views: The Immersive World of Panoramas." It's a collaboration of two of L.A.'s quirkier alternative spaces, the hipster Velaslavasay Panorama and the kitsch-positive Forest Lawn Museum.
Both institutions have unique connections to the subject matter. Forest Lawn founder Hubert Eaton had an abiding belief in the power of art to draw pre-need customers. He bought a mothballed panorama, Jan Styka's The Crucifixion, and installed it as a light-and-narration tourist attraction in his Glendale cemetery. Sara Velas, founder of the Velaslavasay Panorama in West Adams, is one of the few contemporary artists to create panoramas and present them in a vaguely 19th-century mode. Not unlike the Museum of Jurassic Technology, the Velaslavasay Panorama is a contemporary institution that feigns a steampunk history.
The exhibition is divided into three parts: the history of panoramas as a global phenomenon; panoramas of the crucifixion; panoramas in Los Angeles and their contemporary legacy.
|Unknown artist, Section of the Rotunda, Leicester Square, in which is exhibited the Panorama, 1801|
|Unknown artist, Poster for Charles Castellani's "Le Tout Paris" Panorama, 1889|
|Unknown artist, Key to Nomura Yoshimitsu's Panorama of "Aidsu-Great-Battle", 1900|
|Martin Behrman, Battle of Paris Panorama Building, 1888. Los Angeles Public Library|
|Sigmund Strobel Kiffaludy, Jan Styka. Forest Lawn, Glendale|
|Pope Leo XIII blessed the palette Styka used to paint The Crucifixion|
|Unknown photographer, Hall of Crucifixion Billboard, 1951. Forest Lawn Museum|
|Paul Von Klieben, Preliminary Study for Smiling Christ, about 1952. Forest Lawn Museum|
|Installation view with matte painting of Washington, DC, 1955. Collection of Bryan Jackson|
|Stanley Warner Cinerama Corporation, This is Cinerama Re-release Poster, 1973|
|Sara Velas, Panorama of the Valley of the Smokes (small detail), 2001. The Velaslavasay Panorama|
|Sara Velas, Valley of the Smokes|
|Sara Velas, portions of Effulgence of the North with faux terrain, 2005-2007. The Velaslavasay Panorama|
|Jan Styka, The Crucifixion, 1897. Forest Lawn, Glendale|