Artist Spotlight: Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

"Fisher Body 21 Plant," photographed by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre

Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre—both French-born photographers—make a living photographing 20th-century ruins. Yes, that’s right: Ruins. The young duo first discovered the beauty of forgotten things when they photographed the United Artists Theatre in Detroit, Michigan. This Spanish-Gothic movie-house resides in the United Artists Theatre Building and, in its prime, seated over 2,000 people. Inspired by their findings, Marchand and Meffre began photographing abandoned theatres all across the United States. Utilizing only available lighting, the duo captures the majesty and opulence that still exists in these broken, tattered “cathedrals of cinema” that once thrived with life and energy.

In 2005, Marchand and Meffre embarked upon a new project: Photographing the ruins of Detroit. Once known simply as “The Motor City,” Detroit’s ties to the automobile industry have been all but forgotten. The boom the city felt during the first half of the 20th century was replaced with widespread violence, eventually resulting in the exodus of nearly half its population over a period of 50 years. The Detroit of today is a testament to beauty in all of its forms, something that Marchand and Meffre capture in heart-aching clarity in their series entitled The Ruins of Detroit.

In the end, the words of the artists themselves are the only ones that truly do this project justice: “The city’s ruins are not isolated details in the urban environment; they have become a natural component of the landscape. Detroit presents all archetypal buildings of an American city in a state of mummification. Its splendid decaying monuments are—no less than the Pyramids of Egypt, the Coliseum of Rome, or the Acropolis in Athens—remnants of the passing of a great Empire.”

Upon completing this massive project, the duo decided to publish their work, resulting in the 230-page tome, The Ruins of Detroit. To see more of Marchand and Meffre’s work, please visit their website.