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The Ruins of Detroit
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
It must be galling for an art book publisher, spending a lot of time and money on a title, only to find that a very similar book is published at the same time. This happened in 2010 with two excellent photo books covering in detail the ruins of Detroit.

I bought Andrew Moore's Detroit Disassembled first and thought it rather impressive with seventy photos in a landscape format but Marchand and Meffre's book is a much more ambitious and comprehensive look at this fallen city with 186 large photos. As one would expect with photographers looking at the same subject there is some duplication. Intriguingly, right down to a wall clock in the Cass Technical High school, which both books show because it looks like a real life Dali melting clock face.

The photos in The Ruins of Detroit follow a sort of format starting with interiors and exteriors of factories then: interiors of commercial buildings; theaters and cinemas; schools; apartments; churches; police stations; hotels and more schools. The decay is just so overwhelming because this isn't just a few abandoned factories, which could happen anywhere but whole communities occupying hundreds of acres. The thing that intrigued me with Moore's book and this one is that so many of the photos show interiors: classrooms; dentists; libraries or a police office with everything still intact, though admittedly now strewn everywhere. It's as if the everyone just left in a hurry leaving everything behind.

One really strong point about these photos is that they haven't concentrated on lots of close-ups of abandoned detail. I reviewed The Blue Room with photos by Eugene Richards of empty houses on the Great Plains. Far too many close-ups of clothes and personal belongings completely diluted the sense of ruin that these tumble down houses possessed. Marchand and Meffre have stood back from this detail and allowed the overall ruin and decay to capture your eyes. Their photos do it so well too, with beautiful compositions, framing and colour.

This has to be considered the perfect photo book. Large format (check out the Product Details) with a photo a page and mostly all the same size though there are six pages of houses that have four on each. Nicely for a quality art photo book there are detailed captions under each photo instead of the nonsense of putting them all on some back page. Another thoughtful touch are the occasional pages with some text to explain the subsequent pictures. The printing uses a 175 screen for the photos on semi-gloss matt art paper.

Photo books of ruins, whether in cities or in the landscape, seems to be an expanding genre but the two books about Detroit, especially this one, have probably exhausted the visual potential. I doubt anyone can improve on Marchand and Meffre's remarkable efforts in these pages.

>>>LOOK AT SOME INSIDE PAGES by clicking 'customer images' under the cover.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This big expensive book is fast becoming the standard photographic work in its subject. It also gives us more facts and info than one might expect from such a plush volume, and the photos are fab. I've seen and read enough to have garnered most of the stages and causes in the city's slow fade - the decentralisation and decline of the motor industry and the white flight to the suburbs being the biggest - but I hadn't realised that the blight began setting in so early, with some buildings falling into disuse in the late 1950s. All the usual crumbling buildings are here, along with enough others to quell any doubts that maybe the decline is confined to a few well-picked-over sites.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2011
I purchased this today in London and I have to say it is simply beautiful. The way the book is laid out, the quality of the shots, the subject matter. It all adds up to a superb book to own. The quality of the printing is superb also.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 11 January 2011
This is one of the most amazing books that I have seen in a long long time. Besides being quite large, it is well-crafted both physically and content-wise. The photographs are printed in such a large format that tiny details come bouncing out.

One does not need to be from Detroit to see the significance and sadness behind the images- they are universal. But the opening essay on the city's history is consise yet enlightening and short narratives by the photographers throughout the book help navigate the scenes. Industry at its worst.

The book is filled with artwork and is a work of art itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 July 2012
Recently I was emailed by Amazon asking if I would like to sell this book.
This prompted me to look at it again. I can't imagine selling.
Having seen many docs on the decay of the once-great Motor City, none of them capture the moment-in-time stillness of a photograph.
As well as the massive panoramas of rusting production lines, it's the details of thousands of abandoned lives that I found haunting.
The spilled books left to rot on the floor of a library and the chaos of a police station leaving it looking like the victim of a violent burglary - mugshots, dust, dirt and rats left to live undisturbed.
The printing is beautiful. The book's size allows you to study detail and wonder what the last person thought as they turned out the lights, shut the door and left the city.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2011
A huge book of magnificent photos that reads like a dark tale. It captured my imagination like no book of photography before. A work of art.
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on 27 December 2013
I lived in the Detroit area in the mid 1960s and knew it as a thriving metropolitan area with good shops and services, although some areas were starting to show some signs of having problems. It had a very good large department store called J L Hudson, where everybody who was getting married, including me, put their wish lists for presents, a marvellous jeweller where I bought an engagement ring, and many other shops, bars, and restaurants, as well as many factories and other commercial premises. It's now just about all gone, and "The Ruins of Detroit" is full of wonderful pictures of a broken Detroit, including the demolition of J L Hudson's store. It's a great book, but very sad to see how a city which once had almost 2 million people has been wrecked. There are a number of other books on the same subject, all much cheaper, but this must be one of the best.
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on 18 November 2013
I saw an exhibition of some of the work from this book, the images need to be blown up to truly understand how tragic they are. The book however does do a very good job at trying.

I am a collect of coffee table books but also photography and this has to be one of my favourite books, I constantly find aspects I did not notice before. I look at it on a regular basis and still find the images incredibly sad, mesmerising and yet haunting. It is a shame to see a city and beautiful architecture crumble like this, it makes one appreciate things more.

The benefit of this work is that the plight of Detroit thanks to these talented photographers has now made the globe press, too late for some of the buildings but hopefully things will improve.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 September 2012
this book is pure quality
the pictures are outstanding
the essays are well written
i waited 6 months for this book and im not disappointed
matt
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2013
you can see the economic richness and the decay of detroit buildings. Its like the heart stopped beating and the buildings were left as they were.
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