Art and Culture 

The Specter of Ruins

From Soviet Beresniki to Nazi Nuremberg

László F. Földényi 

Stillness can take on a certain degree of drama. In the Gemäldegalerie, which belongs to the Berlin State Museums, hangs a painting on wood dated around 1490 and attributed to Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Architectural Veduta. Its emptiness, its silence, and especially its lack of movement, are striking. Everything is so impeccably ordered that the city looks designed and built not by human beings, but by a god. It gives the impression of something indestructible and incorruptible, as if no natural catastrophe, storm, earthquake, or flood could possibly alter the city. If ever at some time the ‘City of God’ had been constructed, at least how St. Augustine imagined it, surely it would have been like this, even though Di Giorgio Martini’s work shows no building meant for religious workship. It would be the perfect opposite of the first city on earth, Enoch, built by Cain, conceived from the beginning in sin because of its founder, and like Babylon, characterized by confusion...

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