Ruin Lust

John Martin - The Destruction of Pompei and Herculaneum

John Martin – The Destruction of Pompei and Herculaneum

One odd cultural effect of the end of the Cold War was the return of the ruin. In the newly post-historical world, with any dreams of a different future seemingly put to rest for good, a fascination with dilapidation and decay began to seep back into artistic culture like a repressed memory. The 18th- and 19th-century obsession with the crumbling remains of antiquity, reminding the brash, industrialising, newly scientific world of the inevitability of its decline, began to reappear as an elegiac sense of loss among the seeming triumph of liberal democracy. In the last decade no critic has done quite so much to critically shape this fascination with ruins as Brian Dillon, and now, alongside Emma Chambers and Amy Concannon, he has put together a blockbuster show at Tate Britain, a guided tour through the 250-year history of ruin worship.

Full article at the Architectural Review