Louis Daguerre may have his name most linked to the groundbreaking photographic process he created — the daguerreotype — but the French inventor hardly stopped there with his experiments with imaging. In 1822, he also invented the diorama, and although he exhibited them around France and England, only his last still survives.
However, even that diorama almost didn’t make it to the 21st century. Located in Saint Gervais-Saint Protais church in Bry-sur-Marne, a town outside of Paris where he lived the last years of his life until his death in 1851, the diorama was installed in 1839. The piece measures over 18 feet tall and 20 feet wide and was installed in front of a small rotunda for depth. It was declared a historical monument in 1913, yet it’s only a century later that it has been restored. It suffered a couple of destructive restoration attempts in the 20th century, but was mostly just a victim of neglect until the town mayor Jean-Pierre Spilbauer made it a personal focus in 2007. Now it’s back to its luminous self through support from a Getty Foundation grant.
Daguerre wasn’t just interesting in photography, but also the dynamics of light, particularly in his own paintings. In the 19th century the panoramic painting was a popular form and people would line up to view these huge landscapes or battle scenes as if they were theater. Through the diorama, Daguerre did one better by actually turning a painting into a scene of movement. By using the reflection and refraction of changing light and semi-transparent canvases, there could be alterations in the actual light on the image, such as the one in Bry-sur-Marne. The alterations of natural light in the trompe l’oeil diorama positioned behind the altar would cause the candles in the church scene to flicker and the Gothic architecture to fade to night when backlit and make the church appear longer than it was. As Melissa Abraham wrote on the Getty Foundation’s article on the project:
“These works of art appeared to move and change in such a realistic manner that they were sometimes referred to as performances of realistic illusion, and were arguably the precursors to cinema and 3D imagery.”
Bry-sur-Marne is a small town with a population just over 15,000, but they’re aiming to preserve the diorama and other historical places and collections related to Daguerre to garner interest in the town and its place in art history. The Association Louis Daguerre lists not just the diorama, but also Daguerre’s former home that’s now a museum with collections on the inventor that are owned by Bry-sur-Marne. And now with the new restoration, his final spectacular illusion has been resurrected to fascinate another century of viewers.
The Tweet comparing an ominous screen capture from the Tucker Carlson Show to one of Holzer’s Truisms is being sold as an NFT to benefit crucial organizations in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
Rapper Maykel “Osorbo” Pérez was sentenced to nine years.
Shows at the Hudson Valley’s Hessel Museum of Art feature artists Dara Birnbaum and Martine Syms, as well as new scholarship on Black melancholia as an artistic and critical practice.
On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision to undo 50 years of constitutional rights to abortion, artist Elana Mann’s “protest rattles” feel especially poignant and urgent.
This week, Title IX celebrates 50 years, the trouble with pronouns, a writer’s hilarious response to plagiarism allegations, and much more.
PLEASE SEND TO REAL LIFE: Ray Johnson Photographs reveals the “career in photography” that occupied the artist in the last three years of his life.
Since antiquity, women’s eyebrows have been sites of intense scrutiny, constantly shifting between trend cycles.
A landmark show of 30 artists at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in New York keeps the category of Asian figuration open-ended.
Contemporary Black-Indigenous women artists Rodslen Brown, Joelle Joyner, Moira Pernambuco, Paige Pettibon, Monica Rickert-Bolter, and Storme Webber are featured in this digital exhibition.
Hall makes no attempt to entice the viewer to begin looking and to look again, letting her methodical craft compel viewers to reflect upon their experience.
In Benglis’s latest works, the forces of gravity that defined her seminal poured latex and polyurethane pieces are traded for luminous bronzes.
A new project by Columbia’s Queer Students of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation explores queer histories that have been suppressed by gentrification and urban development.