April 3–October 23, 2016


When Cities Fall

Presented in conjunction with “Megacities Asia,” this exhibition of works on paper explores what happens when cities fade. Artists have long been fascinated with scenes of ruin and devastation, and about 40 works drawn from the MFA’s collection provide a look at the mortality of great cities. “Ruined” begins in the Renaissance, when the withered bones of ancient Rome provided artists and scholars with both a source of inspiration and a cautionary tale. Later, the cities of ancient Greece, Egypt, and the Near East also loomed in European imagination, and the exhibition includes early photographs of Athens, as well as Egyptian temples, and 18th- and 19th-century views of Palmyra. The show also features works that capture destructive forces, including images of the great fire of Boston, the empty buildings of Richmond after the Civil War, and the charred remains of Dresden after the firebombing of 1945.

Above: Francis Frith, The Ramesseum of El-Kurneh, Thebes—First View (Fallen Colossus of Rameses), 1857. Photograph, albumen print. Lucy Dalbiac Luard Fund.

  • Frances Vrachos Gallery (Gallery 144)


Presented with support from the Dr. Lawrence H. and Roberta Cohn Fund for Exhibitions.