Friday, June 6, 2014

Joseph Gandy and the Ruins of John Soane's Bank of England

Gandy was a first rate artist who traveled in the highest circles of his time and yet spent a couple terms in Debtor’s Prison and ended up dying destitute in a mental institution.  He worked for and collaborated with the great English architect, John Soane.  They were partners (he was even responsible for much of the education of Soane’s two surviving sons,) but Gandy made the mistake of setting up an independent practice.  He didn’t deal well with clients.  Eventually he went back to working with Soane, before he went mad.  His most famous works are his renderings of Soane’s designs, but these go far beyond what most folk think of as mere renderings.  One such is a drawing of the Bank of England, rendered as a ruin far in the future.  Of course this massive building could never fall into ruin, since it was torn down in the nineteen twenties.  It didn’t last a century, never mind a millennium, though it was built to last a lot longer.  It seems that an architectural masterpiece is a waste of space under the laws of capital, even when the form it takes is a bank.


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