Monday, June 29, 2009


The sunny Colosseum by Alma-Tadema compared to this painting by Caspar David Friedrich.

Winter (1807/08)

It’s pure symbolism. The ruin, the dead tree, the old lonely monk, the snow, the rare light. All indicates failure and death. But there is no horror, this death is luring, promising peace and rest.

(There exist only black and white reproductions because the original was destroyed by fire in 1931).

Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Perspective on Ruins

Many artists went on their Grand Tour to Italy and were impressed by the roman ruins there.

But only a minority was fascinated by the aspect of decay. Most of them wanted to illustrate the magnitude and the luxury of these glorious times. So they took the ruins more as an inspiration to show how they could have been.

One of the most successful painters in this kind of reconstruction was the Dutch-born English classicist painter Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912).

The Colosseum (1896)

The sweet colors, the light, the vivid children and the flowers; there couldn’t be a bigger difference to the dark pessimistic paintings by Caspar David Friedrich.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Planet of the Apes

One of the most famous movie endings of all time is that of the Planet of the Apes in 1968.

As the film ends Charlton Heston discovers the remnants of the Lady Liberty, half-submerged on the shore. Today that wouldn’t be so impressive because the ruins of New are just well known icons. But in 1968 it was probably the first time that it was used by Hollywood.

Above all it was this image, which made the film famous, much more than the quoted apes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Posthuman New York

Here a posthuman scenery by the Spanish painter and illustrator Luis Royo. It’s the typical fantasy painting decorated with a half naked sexy women in leather boots and a fantastic sword. What’s interesting is the Chrysler Building indicating that we are once more in New York.

But I think that the crossbeam is also a hint to the famous photograph by Charles C. Ebbets "Lunchtime atop a Skyscraper".
Royo intended to confront his own dark (sweet romantic) vision of decay with that optimistic icon of the Thirties.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Romantic Monastery

The ruins of a monastery by the German painter Carl Hasenpflug (1802–1858)

A nice romantic ruin painting in the good old Caspar David Friedrich tradition.

Friday, June 12, 2009

When the Apocalypse was still British

Today it may be mandatory to connect the Apocalypse with New York. But there was a time when the Empire still rueld the seas and Britain was still Great. In these glorious times artists loved it to illustrate the end of human civilization with the well known buildings of London.

Here an illustration from a magazine of 1911.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bone House Ruins

Because there are ruins – especially gothic ones - which remind of skeletons it seems fascinating that there are even ruins which are built from bones.

In Arctic Canada can still be seen the rest of Inuit huts built from whale bones. These white bones in the green landscape must be impressive (I know them only by photos).

But that’s not all. In Siberia they found the rests of the huts of mammoth hunters built from mammoth bones. These bones were the only material to make shelter on the barren tundra.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

World War Ruins

Lots of photos of World War I ruins can be found on this German website. It’s not essential to read German to feel impressed by these immense ruins of the old fortifications at Verdun, Poland or the Alps.

more photos here

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Artificial Intelligence

Very nice New York ruins can be seen in the science fiction film Artificial Intelligence: A.I. (2001) directed and produced by Steven Spielberg.

Here in part 12 can New York is under water and later covered with ice. It’s easy to notice that this is no tragedy. It’s beautiful, romantic death.