Floyd Hopper, Ruins, Watercolor, Eckert & Ross Fine Art. Click to inquire


The month of August is notoriously languid. The unofficial month of the shut down, August inspires this post’s focus on the depiction of architectural break downs. Ruins-particularly ancient  structures-have always factored metaphorically in canvases. Religious imagery in Renaissance canvases often incorporated Greco-Roman ruins as symbolism for the triumph of Catholicism over paganism.



Alfred Wands, Untitled, Oil on board, David Cook Galleries. Click to inquire.



Gunnar Widforss, Ruins (Mesa Verde, New Mexico), c. 1923, Watercolor, George Stern Fine Arts. Click to inquire.


Today, there is a reverence for ancient ruins, seen in Floyd Hopper’s Ruins, in the inventory of Member Gallery Eckert & Ross Fine Art, a watercolor of Athen’s acropolis. Preservation projects seek to maintain ruins, and artworks of famous ruins perpetuate the visual and cultural history of sites. Perhaps this makes it more jarring to see ruins of contemporary buildings in cities. 



Edward S. Goldman, Ruins (Chicago), Acrylic on canvas, David Cook Galleries. Click to inquire.


Art history’s obsession with ruins-first preserving them in Grand Tour mementos to take home-is seemingly misaligned with the popularity of photographs of contemporary ruins, coined ‘ruin porn.’


Simon Procter, Chanel,The Broken Cinema, Haute Couture, Paris Grand Palais, C-Print, Rosenbaum Contemporary. Click to inquire.


How do pictorial attitudes differ in depicting the ruins of each century. What artistic allure do ruins emanate? Simon Procter’s photograph of Chanel’s 2013 Haute Couture show, in the inventory of Member Gallery Rosenbaum Contemporary, highlights how the lure of ruins has surpassed documentary and artistic renderings-now a set design to enhance the design house’s latest looks. 



It can be inferred (without statistics) that Easter is probably the most popular day to go to Church-and thus this blog post’s meditation on the depiction of churches within art history. Today it seems we are even more removed from a time when artists’ efforts were concentrated on the construction and decoration of churches.  Churches, once the epicenter of daily life, today seem more symbolic rather than the previous functional role they held as maintainers of the spiritual and physical wellbeing of neighborhoods.




Edwin Roscoe Shrader, An After Church Visit, Oil on canvas, George Stern Fine Arts. Click to inquire.



In the same vain as the Grand Tour, where the ruins of pagan temples were once the source of artistic fascination, abandoned churches of today are being converted into museums, homes and roller rinks.



Artist Ugo Rondinone’s Harlem house, converted from an old church, was profiled by W Magazine in 2014.

Photo: Jason Schmidt




The recently-renovated Garden Museum in London showcases a history of British gardening within the old  St. Mary’s parish church. Photo: John Chase




While artists have mainly painted what’s inside a church rather than the outside, churches often are referential to a visitor: a small detail within an artistic vista. Grand Tour paintings often include famous churches as testimony of one’s visit to important historical sites. Artistic documentation of churches additionally reflect the evolution of church architecture as religion has spread and been adopted by local cultures.



Emil Bisttram, Ranchos de Taos Church, 1970, Oil on canvas.  Addison Rowe Gallery.  Click to inquire.





Paul Cornoyer, Cheyne Walk and All Saints Church, London, Oil on canvas, Avery Galleries.  Click to inquire.




FADA’s inventory of churches demonstrates the nuances of church architecture reflecting the communities surrounding it-and displays the diversity of FADA Member collecting specialities. Churches, whether used as a place of exhibition, habitation or worship, are embedded with the unique histories and archives of a community.



Frederick Childe Hassam, Church Point, Portsmouth, Watercolor on Paper, Vallejo Gallery.  Click to inquire.





Jenne Magafan, Church in Leadville, Mixed Media, David Cook Galleries. Click to inquire.