The life and death of buildings in pictures

A timely exhibition charts the life-cycle of architecture
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Richard Misrach, White Man Contemplating Pyramids (1989)

1 / 13 Richard Misrach, White Man Contemplating Pyramids (1989)

Zhang Dali, Demolition - World Financial Center, Beijing (1998)

2 / 13 Zhang Dali, Demolition - World Financial Center, Beijing (1998)

Danny Lyon, 174 Chambers Street at Bishop's Lane (1967, printed 2007)

3 / 13 Danny Lyon, 174 Chambers Street at Bishop's Lane (1967, printed 2007)

Danny Lyon, View south from 100 Gold Street (1967, printed 2007)

4 / 13 Danny Lyon, View south from 100 Gold Street (1967, printed 2007)

Lynne Cohen, Motel Room (1979)

5 / 13 Lynne Cohen, Motel Room (1979)

Danny Lyon, Beekman Street subbasement (1967, printed 2007)

6 / 13 Danny Lyon, Beekman Street subbasement (1967, printed 2007)

Danny Lyon, Dropping a wall (1967, printed 2007)

7 / 13 Danny Lyon, Dropping a wall (1967, printed 2007)

Danny Lyon, 80 and 82 Beekman Street (1967, printed 2007)

8 / 13 Danny Lyon, 80 and 82 Beekman Street (1967, printed 2007)

Danny Lyon, Staircase, 183 William Street (1967, printed 2007)

9 / 13 Danny Lyon, Staircase, 183 William Street (1967, printed 2007)

Laura Gilpin, Stairway, Temple of Kukulcán, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán (1932, printed later)

10 / 13 Laura Gilpin, Stairway, Temple of Kukulcán, Chichén Itzá, Yucatán (1932, printed later)

Tim Davis, Colosseum Pictures (The New Antiquity) (2009)

11 / 13 Tim Davis, Colosseum Pictures (The New Antiquity) (2009)

Frith Series, York, Railway Station (after 1871)

12 / 13 Frith Series, York, Railway Station (after 1871)

Dmitri Baltermants, Tchaikovsky (1945)

13 / 13 Dmitri Baltermants, Tchaikovsky (1945)


The lifespan of architecture is the subject of a new exhibition entitled: The Life and Death of Buildings which opens this week at Princeton University Art Museum (23 July - 6 November). The show examines the life-cycle of buildings through photographs which capture a moment in time to tell the story of a building.

On display, alongside images from William Henry Fox Talbot and Alfred Stieglitz is Danny Lyon's 1967 series, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan - 72 photographs which document the demolition of a 60 acre site to make way for the World Trade Center. Lyon set about documenting the buildings, as he told Phaidon: "These buildings were old and it was quite upsetting for me. I like architecture. New Yorker's were destroying their own city."

The work on show charts buildings at all stages of their lifetimes, from viaducts being built in the 1800s to Edward Ruscha's Every Building on Sunset Strip (1966), to the derelict arches of a Medieval Abbey in 1856. Photographers document these stages and their photographs become the only lasting reminders of what the buildings once were.


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