Idyllic Kodak Scenes in Colorama on Exhibit
The City of Lake Charles will host “Colorama” at the Historic City Hall Arts & Cultural Center. The opening reception will take place Friday, June 23 from 5:30-8:00 pm. The event will be open to the public with no admission and refreshments will be served. “Colorama” will hang through December 2.
For 40 years, the spectacular 18 feet high and 60 feet wide Kodak Colorama images were displayed in Grand Central Terminal in New York. Kodak introduced these phantasmagoric ads in the 1950s, and displayed 565 of them at Grand Central. Backlit with more than a mile of tubing, the colorful panoramas often showed impossibly happy people photographing beautiful scenes — reinforcing the idea that travelers should document the fleeting moments of life (with a Kodak camera, of course). They represent an appealing idealization of American life, as well as an effective use of photographs to create desire for the products and activities they sold.
Touted by Kodak as “the world’s largest photographs,” the panoramic prints involved a remarkably complex technical process. Each print required a task force of Kodak experts — with an occasional guest director like Ansel Adams or Norman Rockwell. A variety of large format cameras were used throughout the years and, in early years, the wet 20-foot transparencies were dried overnight in the swimming pool area at Kodak’s employee recreation center.
Kodak donated its collection of Colorama materials to George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. Thirty-six of the 565 images are reproduced for the exhibition “Colorama”, organized by the George Eastman Museum. Sadly, they are not full-size recreations of the giant transparencies but 5-7 feet wide prints of some of the images from the 1960s.
Also on exhibit is “PAN: A Graphic Arts Time Capsule of Avant Garde Europe, 1895-1900”. The exhibition includes eighty works from the German Art Nouveau periodical, PAN, published between1895-1900. Pan will hang through June 24.
Historic City Hall is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted. Charlestown Farmers’ Market is open on Bilbo Street behind the center every Saturday 8 a.m.-noon. For more information, please call 491-9147 or visit www.cityoflakecharles.com.
Jim Pond (American, active ca. 1960). [Colorama No. 308 (Family in convertible somewhere in Texas)], displayed June 3–24, 1968. George Eastman Museum, gift of David B. Anderson. © Eastman Kodak Company
Herbert Archer (American, 1914–1986). [Colorama No. 312 (Cabin & canoe, Saddleback Lake, Maine)], displayed September 16–October 7, 1968. George Eastman Museum, gift of David B. Anderson. © Eastman Kodak Company