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In this provocative study, Hubert Robert's paintings of urban ruins are interpreted as manifestations of a new consciousness of time, one shaped by the uncertainty of an economy characterized by the anxiety-inducing expansion of credit, frenzied speculation on the stock market, and foolhardy ventures in real estate. At the centre of this lively narrative lie Robert's depictions of the ruins of Paris - macabre and spectacular paintings of desolation - on the eve of the French Revolution. Drawing on a vast range of materials, Futures & Ruins interprets Robert's artworks as harbingers of a modern appetite for self-destruction: the paintings are examined as expressions of the pleasures and perils of a risk economy.