Disaster art?


I was in Anapolis, MD, last weekend and saw something that I thought was a bit odd (above): disaster art. At first, I was stunned; how could a place celebrate (but potentially profit) from local disasters? How would that appeal to tourists? In this case, of course, its an image of flooding after a hurricane where the infrastructure of the harbor is damaged and, in may cases, submerged.


“Why would folks want pictures of broken infrastructure?” I thought. And that’s when my art history training came in and I had a “duh” moment. Disaster art — fictional and non-fictional — has been common for centuries. See, for example, this blog post about sunken ships or this one featuring a number of examples of fictional disaster art.This pintrest board sums it up nicely, saying disaster begets creativity, and includes a number of other obvious pieces of this puzzle like disaster memorials and post-disaster reassembly work like art from tsunami rubble in Japan. I’d also be remiss not to include the massive amount of disaster art in video games, for example, post-apocalyptic games like the Fallout (below), Gears of War, or Halo series.


Still, people’s love for depicting ruins is far older than all that. I’m thinking, in particular, of the many depictions — often with a romantic feel — of derelict Greek temples or statues like this image (contemporary, lame, background wallpaper) or this painting of the Colosseum (from the second half of 17th century).


Seems we love our ruins, after all.


4 thoughts on “Disaster art?

  1. I spoke to the guy who owned the shop and he said that the sales for those disaster pieces was pretty good (some of these costal areas have people who, well, don’t worry about money) and he seemed to think that the pieces are sort of like a memorial of sorts.


  2. the selling may be different (tho the art markets these days are what that are so maybe not) but what about the interest/reception?


  3. Not entirely sure; obviously, people appear to love a good disaster these days … still, nightly news or overblown weather reports (no pun intended) is just not the same as “selling” carefully constructed art years afterward, at least, to my mind. Something else is going on there, the same could be said about all the romantic French art featuring Roman ruins right around the time of the enlightenment…


Comments are closed.