Luminous Cities: Creative Explorations of Architectural Structures in Urban Landscapes

Edward Steichen, The Maypole, Empire State Building, New York City, 1932

Andreas Feininger, New York at Night, c. 1940

Eugene Atget (France), Coin de la Rue Valette et Pantheon, 5e Arrondissement, Matinee de Mars, 1925

Stephen Thompson, Grande Canale, Venice, c. 1868

Henry Hart (England), House of Parliament, London, c. 1847-1857

Luminous Cities: Creative Explorations of Architectural Structures in Urban Landscapes

Luminous Cities is a fascinating collection of photographs, which have been selected from a delightful exhibition of photographs of the built environment on display at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. The world’s great cities have always been vibrant centers of creativity, in which the built environment is often as inspirational as the activities of its citizens, and since the nineteenth century photographers have creatively explored the idea of the city.

The exhibition enables the viewer to examine the various ways photographers have viewed cities as historical sites, bustling modern hubs and architectural utopias in the 19th and 20th centuries. Through the work of a range of photographers, Luminous Cities leads viewers on a fascinating journey around the world, into the streets, buildings and former lives of some of our greatest international cities.  The many fine photographs presented here, and in the remarkable slide show, include works by renowned photographers Eugene Atget, Edward Steichen, Paul Strand, Berenice Abbott, Bill Brandt, Lee Freidlander and Grant Mudford amongst many others.

Photography in the City: Contemporary Urban Atmospheres

Slide Show: Luminous Cities/Architectural Structures in Urban Landscapes

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The Ruins of Detroit: A Sad Narrative of Urban Life in America

Michigan Central Station

The Ballroom, Lee Plaza Hotel

Atrium, The Farwell Building

Bagley-Clifford Office of the National Bank of Detroit

The William Livingstone House

The Ruins of Detroit: A Sad Narrative of Urban Life in America

The Ruins of Detroit is a powerful and disturbing collection of photographs, which are the result of a five-year collaboration by the French photographers Yves Marchand and Romain MeffreThe Ruins of Detroit tells the city’s story in one starkly beautiful photograph after another, adding up to nothing less than an end-of-empire narrative.  The abandoned factories, the eerily vacant schools, the rotting houses and gutted skyscrapers chronicled by Marchand and Meffre are the artefacts of Detroit’s astonishing rise as a global capital of capitalism and its even more extraordinary descent into ruin, a place where the boundaries between the American dream and the American nightmare, between prosperity and poverty, between the permanent and the ephemeral are powerfully and painfully visible.  No place exemplifies both the creative and destructive forces of modernity more than Detroit, past and present.

In addition to these remarkable photographs, this piece presents a memorable slide show of additional images from the collection and a documentary short film.  Pure Detroit is a short film by Ivan George with gorgeous cinematography, but it’s also one that confronts the viewer with dramatic images of the collapse and decay that rapid economic and social change can have upon urban life.  The impact of the film has been described as somewhere between heaven, hell and quiet meditation.  While Pure Detroit is a beautiful visual mood piece, it’s also incredibly sad.  The film reveals so much about the rapid changes we’re encountering in our world right now, how the old things gets broken much faster than new things are put in their place.  Pure Detroit serves as a powerful reminder of what the old things breaking down can be like for so many of us.

Pure Detroit: When Old Things Get Broken

Slide Show: The Ruins of Detroit/A Sad Narrative of Urban Life in America

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