Monday, July 12, 2010

Detroit Disassembled

Julie and I were casting about for an outing one day last month when she was in town. We are always talking about re-visiting the Akron Art Museum, so I checked their current exhibitions. You probably can't imagine my excitement when I found that the Detroit photographs of Andrew Moore are there right now in a fantastic exhibition entitled "Detroit Disassembled".

I was already aware of these photos, actually, because Ben had shown them to me some months earlier when he found them online. We marveled over the images of massive structures abandoned to the elements. I knew Julie would love the photographs, and I couldn't wait to see them displayed on such a grand scale, so off we went to the museum.

I was blown away by what I saw. The photographs in the exhibition are so beautiful and evocative that, well, really, words fail me. I offer you instead the catalog's description:

"Moore’s images, printed on the scale of epic history paintings, belong to an artistic tradition that began in the 17th century. Numerous artists have used ruins to remind their viewers of the fall of past great civilizations and to warn that contemporary empires risk the same fate. Moore’s soaring scenes of rusting factory halls and crumbling theaters share the monumentality of Giovanni Battista Piranesi’s 18th century engravings of the fallen civic monuments of ancient Rome and Greece. His photographs of skeletal houses and collapsed churches carry forward the Romantic tone and rich hues of Caspar David Friedrich’s 19th century paintings of fallen medieval cathedrals and castles."

If you live anywhere in Northeast Ohio, I encourage you to see this exhibition while it is here. See it to contemplate what has become of a once-great city in our contemporary throw-away society. See it as social commentary. See it as a warning. Or just see it for the haunting beauty and grandeur of an abandoned train station, or the hollow emptiness of a once-bustling automotive complex. Just go and see it. You'll thank me.

Here is a link to the museum website:

And you can read here about Detroit Disassembled specifically:

Or view additional photos from Andrew Moore's Detroit series:


Ben said...

A great post. So now I'm thinking again that I should really go see this. The museum's description calls to mind parts of an old favorite poem, "Ozymandias".

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

anne mancine said...

Just let me know when you want to go. I'd go again in a heartbeat.

jamanci said...

it really was a great exhibit, and it was truly impressive to see images of such massive proportions.

the images took in large landscapes, and so needed to be big, but they also had an amazing clarity when you stepped up to examine this or that corner--to read the textbook bindings in the depository with the tree growing out of it, or check out a trig problem on the chalkboard of the school with the walls blown out.

the ruins are fascinating--i think that sort of thing may universally fascinate people. in a way, what makes it even more fascinating here is that the US didn't really have ruins--or didn't think it did. with constant growth and development, you tear these kinds of things down and put something up on the space. no one wants these spaces, and so they're left, to grow and change only at the speed of nature instead of man.