‘Ruin Lust’ is the slightly offbeat title of the latest exhibition at the Tate in London, “a guide to the mournful, thrilling, comic and perverse uses of ruins in art from the seventeenth century to the present day”. It’s a title translated directly from a German term for the aesthetic appreciation of ruins, Ruinelust.
But what is it that humans through the centuries have found so fascinating about ruins? As far back as Medieval times, they’ve provided inspiration for writers and artists, as well as places of retreat and contemplation. Is it a preoccupation with our history, a thrill in seeing past merge with present in such a visual way? A meditation our own mortality, a reconciliation with grief? These are some of the questions the exhibition asks through over a hundred works by artists from Constable to the work of more modern painters and photographers.
The exhibition has also inspired the publication of a list by The Telegraph of the World’s Best Ruins, and it’s no surprise that Machu Picchu heads up the list. As visitors to our luxury eco lodges and boutique hotels in Peru already know, Machu Picchu is an experience second to none, a humbling vista of terraces and ruins high above the Urubamba Valley. The 550-year old citadel is remarkably well-preserved, and lay mostly forgotten in its secret location until 1911, when Hiram Bingham stumbled across it on a search for the Inca’s Lost City. It escaped sacking by the Spanish conquistadors, but its greatest downside today is the sheer number of visitors who make their way to the UNESCO World Heritage Site each year.
However, as the Telegraph writers themselves point out, “with a bit of careful planning and the right approach, you will find the site as enchanting and engaging as any on the planet”. For us, that right approach is a stay at Sumaq Machu Picchu, our luxury boutique hotel in Machu Picchu, where you can really get up close to life in the shadow of the ruins, and enjoy a leisurely trip to the ruins by train, instead of having the few short hours there to which so many package tourists are limited. Or why not stop over at the Sol & Luna Lodge, our luxury eco lodge en route to the site, in the midst of the Sacred Valley. However you get there, it’s certain to fascinate and inspire, in the grand tradition of Ruinelust.
Ruin Lust is at Tate Britain from 4 March – 18 May 2014.