The conceptual centerpiece of the exhibition “The Life and Death of Buildings” at the University Art Museum is a series of photographs by Danny Lyon, The Destruction of Lower Manhattan. The image at right, “View South from 100 Gold Street,” is one of them. These are not photographs of the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, but of the demise of neighborhoods that were torn down to make way for the World Trade Center. The exhibition features 16 images from that 1967 series, and several others of New York City, including Peter Hujar’s 1976 “The World Trade Center, Twilight,” and one image of Sept. 11, 2001 — Thomas Ruff’s print of a digital image of the moment the north tower collapsed.
While the exhibit was conceived as an “oblique” meditation on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, said Joel Smith *01, curator of photography at the art museum and curator of the exhibit, the show is about more than that single day. The exhibit includes 130 photographs of buildings from around the world, spanning the history of photography beginning in the 1840s. It also includes five non-photographic objects, including a painting, a comic panel, and Gordon Mattta-Clark’s 1974 sculpture of roof corners sawed off from a house in decay in Englewood, N.J.