In this timely and provocative study, Hubert Robert’s paintings of urban ruins are interpreted as manifestations of a new consciousness of time, one shaped by the uncertainties of an economy characterized by the dread-inducing expansion of credit, frenzied speculation on the stock exchange, and bold ventures in real estate. As the favored artist of an enterprising Parisian elite, Robert is a prophetic case study of the intersections between aesthetics and modernity’s dawning business culture.
At the center of this lively narrative lie Robert’s depictions of the ruins of Paris—macabre and spectacular paintings of fires and demolitions created on the eve of the French Revolution. Drawing on a vast range of materials, Futures & Ruins understands these artworks as harbingers of a modern appetite for destruction. The paintings are examined as expressions of the pleasures and perils of a risk economy. This captivating account—lavishly illustrated with rarely reproduced objects—recovers the critical significance of the eighteenth-century cult of ruins and of Robert’s art for our times.
About the Author
Nina L. Dubin is an associate professor of art history at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Engagingly written and elegantly produced.”—Burlington Magazine
“A meticulously researched study. . . . Both historically stimulating and morally engaging. . . . Filled with dazzling color illustrations.”—CAA Reviews
“Nina L. Dubin has analyzed Robert closely and compellingly. In doing so she has planted an important tree in the historiographically evergreen forest of works on Parisian art in the Revolutionary Era.”—European Review of History