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Photography

October 2008

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Thursday, October 30, 2008 The Astronomers

An odd, dark and mottled cloud deck moved in off the Pacific, and, with the long October light, the sky got all spooky.  That meant it was time to head up to Griffith Park Observatory, high above Hollywood, and visit the Astronomers Monument, used in many a movie to add a touch of sinister surrealism.  It was that kind of day.

The Astronomers - 1934, Public Works of Art Project - Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles

The Cast:
- Hipparchus (about 150 B.C.)
- Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543)
- Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
- Johannes Kepler (1571-1630)
- Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
- William Herschel (1738-1822)

The Astronomers - 1934, Public Works of Art Project - Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles

The Basics

    The monument is an enduring product of the great economic depression of the 1930s, when New Deal initiatives created federally funded work programs to employ skilled workers in many fields at a time when they would otherwise remain idle and without income. One of the first of these programs, the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP), began in December 1933. Soon thereafter, in cooperation with the Los Angeles Park Commission, PWAP commissioned a sculpture project on the grounds of the new Observatory (which was under construction). Using a design by local artist Archibald Garner and materials donated by the Women's' Auxiliary of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Garner and five other artists sculpted and cast the concrete monument and figures. Each artist was responsible for sculpting one astronomer; one of the artists, George Stanley, was also the creator of the famous "Oscar" statuette.

    On November 25, 1934 (about six months prior to the opening of the Observatory), a celebration took place to mark completion of the Astronomers Monument, which had proven to be the most ambitious creation of the PWAP. The only "signature" on the Astronomers Monument is "PWAP 1934" referring to the federal agency which funded the project and the year it was completed.

Also see The George Stanley Fountain at the Hollywood Bowl same sort of thing.

The Astronomers - 1934, Public Works of Art Project - Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
The Astronomers - 1934, Public Works of Art Project - Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
The Astronomers Monument - 1934, Public Works of Art Project - Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles

The whole place is just spooky

Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles

It's not all astronomers of course.  They filmed key scenes in Rebel Without a Cause here. Just to the right of Nicholas Copernicus, James Dean is still here. 

James Dean bust and Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park Observatory, Los Angeles

If you wish to use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me. And should you choose to download any of these images and use them invoking the "fair use" provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976, please provide credit, and, on the web, a link back this site.

Technical Note:

These photographs were taken with a Nikon D200 the lenses used were AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or AF Nikkor 70-300 mm telephoto.  Photography here is modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0 software.

Home (latest issue) | Recent Photography | Image Archives | Guest Photography | The International Desk | About This Site | Search This Site | Just Above Sunset Commentary

[October 2008] [Hollywood Monsters] [At the Junction] [October Surprise] [The History Corner] [No Place to Be] [Things Do Change] [Long October Light] [Displaced Images] [Angles and Curves] [The Cat Garden] [Smoke in the Air] [Hollywood Lies] [Dream Boulevard] [Thunder Road] [Serious Halloween] [Dark Signs] [Friday on Sunset] [Intimate Lighting] [Oil and Greed] [Dark Times Indeed] [Hollywood Ennui] [Hollywood Recovery] [Political Surrealism] [Late October] [Faith in Los Angeles] [Street Rod Tours] [Watching the Gulls] [The Astronomers] [Rebuilding America] [1958 Again]