Welcome to this month’s ArtSmart Roundtable with the topic of Wall Paintings/Frescoes. There were so many works that I considered: the trompe l’oueil wall paintings in the Sindone Chapel at Turin, the scandalous fresoces in the baths of Pompeii, the mosaics at San Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna…but I decided to break away from my traditional art history background and go for something quirky. Something that may not qualify as a masterpiece but as the world’s largest oil painting. This month, I decided to cover the Cyclorama in Atlanta.
Having made several trips to Atlanta from Aiken and Augusta as a kid/teen, I always saw the exit signs for the Cyclorama and thought it was some bike track from the Olympics or something. Nope. The Cyclorama is a panoramic painting depicting the Battle of Atlanta during the Civil War. It doesn’t stop there, however. There’s a diorama in front of the panorama to give it more depth. At times, you can barely tell where one stops and the other begins. To view it, the seats in the center of the building rotate while the history is narrated. It’s quirky, a little cheesy, but incredibly unique.
The painting itself currently measures 42 by 358 feet, which is a reduction from the original 50 by 400 feet. About 12 painters worked on it for one year, with the painting completed in 1886. The painters were mostly German with experience painting smaller panoramas, and it was executed in Milwaukee by a company that specialized in panoramic paintings. After traveling across various parts of the US, it was purchased by an Atlantan in 1893. The owner asked the city of Atlanta to construct a building to house it, and they chose Grant Park. The current building is fireproof to protect the painting. The last update to the Cyclorama experience was in the 80s which adds to the quirky factor.
Do yourself a favor and check it out the next time you’re in Atlanta. It’s right next to the Atlanta Zoo so you can’t miss it. I’m not a Civil War buff, but I found the experience to be entertaining and unique. Plus, if you’re from Atlanta, you’ll recognize a few sites in the painting such as Copen Hill (where the Carter Center is now located). Want to see the entire painting? The Cyclorama’s official website links to two videos that you can watch here.
What is ArtSmart? A couple fellow travel bloggers with an interest in art and I decided to do a roundtable series focused on making our readers “art smart”, e.g. understanding why certain works of art are famous and worth the visit while traveling. At the end of this post are links to the other ArtSmart posts by participating bloggers. Interested in joining the Roundtable? Check out our Facebook page or email me.
Photos by London looks.
This Month’s Fellow ArtSmart Roundtable Articles:
Leslie of Career Girl Travels: ArtSmart Roundtable: Fresco Rescue and the Problem of Venice
Jeff of EuroTravelogue: ArtSmart Roundtable: Raphael’s “School of Athens” in the Vatican Museum
Jenna of This Is My Happiness: ArtSmart Roundtable: Frescoes in Florence, Italy
Kelly of Travellious: Artsmart Roundtable: Frescoes, Wall Art, and the Test of Time