In the wide-ranging contemporary debates about visuality and the emergence of the modern spectator, the significance of panorama painting in the nineteenth century is frequently cited. Stephan Oettermann’s book The Panorama provides the first major historical study of the rich phenomenon of the panorama in English, offering a valuable and much-needed source of historical details and ideas about one of the most influential forms of visual entertainment in the nineteenth century.
In this richly illustrated book, Oettermann gives readers a concrete sense of the structural and experiential reality of the panorama and the many forms it took throughout Europe and North America — a crucial task, since very few of the original nineteenth-century panoramas survive. At the same time, he outlines the many ways in which these remarkable and often immense 360-degree images were part of a larger transformation of the status of the observer and of popular culture.
Thus, the panorama is treated not only as a new kind of image but also as an architectural and informational component of the new urban spaces and media networks. For anyone interested in the origins of contemporary visual culture, this book will be indispensable.
“Stephan Oettermann’s wonderful book may be as much about time as space, a time that still had time for moments of arrested motion, and visual contemplation.” —Bookforum