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Makers of Ruins
September 18, 2012 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Once upon a time, there was a wizard who knew what Heaven and Hell looked like.
On Joseph Michael Gandy (1771 – 1843), the architect's assistant who painted palaces that never were and ruins that had yet to be.

Gandy's architectural fantasies are properly called capricci. The capriccio genre was launched by Venetian landscape painters who grew tired of executing the same handful of views of the Grand Canal for tourists and began to make up new antique panoramas. The style attained profundity and terror in the etchings of Piranesi (previously) and an odd ruinous calm on the massive canvases of Hubert Robert.
posted by Iridic (14 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite

 
Gandy's vision of the Bank of England in ruins

Ahhh, wishful thinking.
posted by chavenet at 10:06 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah! My god! I was just learning about this guy Gandy the other day! His work is goddamn amazing. I scoured the net for hours trying to find a couple decent versions of his images. Even had to email a couple British university types who have things unavailable elsewhere. It's incredibly hard to find copies of his stuff, but I managed to piece together quite a few in good quality. I've uploaded them to a gallery here (56k warning).
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 10:10 AM on September 18, 2012 [21 favorites]


I've always loved these sorts of things. One of my favorites is Canaletto's An Island in the Lagoon with a Gateway and a Church (link).
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:10 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is super cool. We had a little waterfall on our property and I always wanted to install some fake ruins there.
posted by shothotbot at 10:13 AM on September 18, 2012


Oh they also have some Hubert Robert paintings: Fantastic View of Tivoli The Column The Obelisk The Ruin

Source.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:19 AM on September 18, 2012


We had a little waterfall on our property and I always wanted to install some fake ruins there.

Your name isn't Lyttelton by chance is it?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:20 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


These aren't real pictures of fake ruins. They are fake pictures of ruins.
posted by DU at 10:21 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well the pictures are real, the pictures are just of fake things or real things that aren't ruined yet.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:24 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


They are fake pictures of ruins

Capricci knockoffs? Sapristi knockos!
posted by yoink at 10:26 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for this post!

I love this sort of thing and didn't realize it has a name and historical tradition.

Moreover, I think it's resolved a mysterious early-childhood memory. When I was very young, my parents took me some sort of film showing for kids at the public library. I was barely old enough to pay attention and follow-along, but the imagery from that film -- whatever it was -- has always haunted me. When I clicked on the Piranesi, I instantly recognized it as the imagery that's been in the back of my mind all these years.

Why on earth a public library would be showing a film that had something to do with that etching to small children, I have no idea. But I even remember the spiky roller things on the lower-left and how much they creeped me out.
posted by treepour at 12:02 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was reading (and discovering) about Piranesi just yesterday in the second trade paperback of Morrison's Doom Patrol (The painting that ate paris), where Paris is eaten by a knock off of a mysterious Piranesi's painting.
posted by SageLeVoid at 12:57 PM on September 18, 2012


But ... What will the archeologists think?
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:49 PM on September 18, 2012


Thank you! I had never heard of Gandy. Wonderful stuff.

And a very big thank you as well to BlackLeotardFront for what I believe the goons on SomethingAwful would call an "effortpost" - a really substantial contribution to the thread. What a great gallery. Incredibly evocative and strange and visionary.
posted by lucien_reeve at 1:59 AM on September 19, 2012


It's absurdly pleasing that Gandy's view of the Bank of England in ruins is shown in the article on John Soane, who designed the bank building (fpp 'architect's assistant' link) and blandly referred to there as a "cutaway view."
posted by jfuller at 1:27 PM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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