Romance of ruins in art explored by new Tate exhibition

Released on: March 04, 2014, 10:10 am (EST)
Industry: Entertainment

Artists from John Constable to Rachel Whiteread feature at Tate Britain.

LONDON, -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- A fascinating exhibition at Tate Britain opens today (4th March), examining art's fascination with historic ruins. Ruin Lust   will offer a guide to the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art from the seventeenth century to the present day. The exhibition is the widest-ranging on the subject of ruins in art to date and includes more than 100 works by artists such as JMW Turner, John Constable, John Martin, Eduardo Paolozzi, Rachel Whiteread and Tacita Dean. The exhibition is at Tate Britain, near Westminster and close to dozens of key London sights, as well as great bars and restaurants. Visitors to London should check out LondonTown's guide to the area. The website also has the latest information on how to find a cheap London hotel.

Ruin Lust begins with the eighteenth-century craze for ruins that overtook artists, writers and architects. JMW Turner and John Constable were among those who toured Britain in search of ruins and picturesque landscapes, producing works such as Turner's Tintern Abbey: The Crossing and Chancel, Looking towards the East Window 1794, and Constable's Sketch for HadleighCastle' c.1828-9.

Britain's ruinous heritage has been revisited and sometimes mocked by later artists such as photographer Keith Arnatt. Classical ruins have a continued presence in the work of Eduardo Paolozzi, Ian Hamilton Finlay and John Stezaker. Rachel Whiteread's Demolished - B: Clapton Park Estate 1996, shows the demolition of Hackney tower blocks. The exhibition explores ruination through both slow picturesque decay and abrupt apocalypse. John Martin's The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum 1822 recreates historical disaster while Gustave Doré's engraving   The New Zealander 1872 shows a ruined London. The cracked dome of St Paul's Cathedral in the distance of this nineteenth century work was a scene partly realised during the Blitz.

Ruin Lust   also investigates work provoked by the wars of the twentieth century. Graham Sutherland's Devastation   series 1940-1, depicts the aftermath of the Blitz while Jane and Louise Wilson's 2006 photographs show the Nazis' defensive Atlantic Wall along the north coast of   France. Jon Savage's images of a desolate London in the late 1970s show how artists also view ruins as zones of pure potential, where the world must be rebuilt or reimagined. For more information on this and other exhibition at the Tate Britain or Tate Modern, see

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