Sanford Wurmfeld’s non-mimetic panorama painting in Edinburgh

At the Edinburgh Art Festival, which starts this Thursday, Sanford Wurmfeld is presenting an E-Cyclorama – a 21st Century version of the once popular 19th Century panorama paintings. The “E” stands for elliptical – the project itself is a giant painting on the inside of a huge cylinder. Pauline McLean reports for BBC News that Wurmfeld’s inspiration was Baroque churches – for both the shape and the colour. “But it is also apt that it is Edinburgh where it will first be shown. For it was here that Irishman Robert Barker created the first panorama in 1788. It was, he said, the only way to get the entire view of the city from the top of Calton Hill into one painting. He subsequently opened his own Cyclorama in Edinburgh. The result inspired a tradition which was hugely popular in 19th Century Britain. The Cyclorama comes from the Greek word ‘to circle’ and ‘orama’ which means to view and these huge circular or hexagonal constructions would have been familiar sights in cities across the country. As the viewer stood in the centre of the painting, there would often be music or a narrator telling the story of the scene. Hundreds were created – although only a handful survive today – mostly epic battle scenes. And for many people, they were the forerunners of modern cinema entertainment. Wurmfeld has been working on the new project for a year – and since the four canvasses were painted separately in New York and then shipped here for assembly, its unveiling will not just be the first time the artist has seen the E-Cyclorama, it will be the first time anyone has seen it.” Read more.
Other panorama paintings:
Gettysburg cyclorama restoration
Panorama Mesdag The Hague

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