Artists of yore made pilgrimages to Greece, Italy and Egypt to paint the remains of ancient civilizations. Touchstones of greatness past, those ruins were easy metaphors for the march of time, mortality and the transience of power.
Apart from, say, the cliff-side villages of Anasazi Indians and ghost- town relics of the Gold Rush, the New World was, well, too new, for such things. We were busy looking forward anyway, so sure of our supremacy that even the deterioration of Rust Belt cities didn’t give us too much pause – until the Great Recession let the air out of the balloon.
Now we recognize those cities are our ruins, and Detroit, once an exemplar of American ingenuity, middle-class success and industrial might, is the biggest metaphor of all. Although the crown of the magnificent Fisher Building still gleams on the skyline, the streets down below are like a gap-toothed crone, pocked with empty lots, and crumbling houses. Schools and offices are shuttered. Nature is reclaiming this once bustling metropolis.
The Motor City has attracted a host of 21st-century Piranesis and Poussins, Andrew Moore, among them. His large color photographs of abandoned buildings and defeated neighborhoods, a sampling from his book “Detroit Disassembled,” are on view at Jackson Fine Art. For full review, see AJC.