Looking Up: Griffith Observatory Murals

Looking Up: Griffith Observatory Murals

20130317_144158Heaven may be right there on the ceiling…or a bit of it, anyway!

A trip into LA’s  Griffith Park, with the express intent of seeing the Hugo Ballin Murals in the W. M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda  of the amazing Griffith Observatory  yields immediate results.  If you would like to do this yourself…here are the instructions:

Walk into the W. M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda  of the  Griffith Observatory, stand still, and look up.  This is what you will see…

20130317_142353Turn your head slightly, and you will see a whole new view, and details that may have escaped your initial glance!

20130317_142411No delayed gratification here!

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“On the vaulted ceiling and upper walls of the W. M. Keck Foundation Central Rotunda are Griffith Observatory’s greatest artistic treasure: the Hugo Ballin Murals. Workers have carefully and completely restored the murals so that they appear as they did when first painted by muralist, film producer, and author Hugo Ballin (1879-1956) in 1934-35.

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Medieval cathedrals told stories in stone. The Ballin ceiling mural celebrates classical celestial mythology, with images of Atlas, the four winds, the planets as gods, and the twelve constellations of the zodiac. The eight rectangular Ballin wall murals depict the “Advancement of Science” with panels on astronomy, aeronautics, navigation, civil engineering, metallurgy and electricity, time, geology and biology, and mathematics and physics.

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In addition to Griffith Observatory, Hugo Ballin’s murals also appear throughout Los Angeles in such noted buildings as the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, the Los Angeles Times Building, and Los Angeles City Hall Council Chambers.” —http://www.griffithobservatory.org/exhibits/brotunda.html

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The joy is in the soft range of hues used, and the details, which combine to create a harmonious, yet thrilling whole, and complete the narrative.

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The nearby fluidly shaped recessed ceiling is also highly ornamental, treated to what looks to be meticulously applied painted texture, or “paint effects“, a magnificent central floral/sunburst style image,

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bands of architectural details gracing its curves, gold surfaced “dentils” , and repeated lines and shapes which, in concert with the color palette, tie it all together.

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If all things Griffith fascinate you,  may enjoy seeing this video on the Park, the Observatory, the Murals, and the man who started it all, Griffith J. Griffith.

Enjoy the view!

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