American Beauty: The Opulent Pre-Depression Architecture of Detroit

Artist Statement

Even as a child, I was drawn to dark stories. I was fascinated by tragedies and dark comedies – tinged with the bitterness of adult experience.  With photography as my chosen medium, the abandoned and disappearing architecture of early twentieth-century Detroit offered a story with many layers of complexity and irony. I’ve always been drawn to handcrafted equipment made of brass, steel, and hand polished glass. For most architectural projects, I use a large format camera and digital back from Denmark, paired with German Schneider lenses, an architectural camera capable of controlling perspective and able to create prints of a monumental scale.  It is  the fine details within the images that tell the story of craftsmanship.  The composition and the large size of the prints give the viewer the experience of being within grand structural spaces.  By shooting elevations and avoiding complex camera angles I attempt to remove the camera from the viewer experience. Passion exists in this once great city because of the battles the people are fighting.  The Detroit series offered me a chance for a narrative that I felt needed to be told and to create images with the potential to effect change.

Artist Biography

Philip Jarmain grew up near London, Ontario, with part of his childhood spent in Switzerland and Ireland. There were also many family trips to Mexico. His mother is a textile artist and fathers an entrepreneur. A childhood love of storytelling led to early fascination with film, photography and cameras. dShort dramas shot with an 8 mm wind-up camera were a passion. Later, his training was in film (Vancouver Film School), and for some years he worked in lighting for feature films and episodic television, and after that as stills photographer for film.

While establishing himself as a full time artist in photography, Jarmain supports himself as a commercial photographer specializing in conceptual advertising, based in Vancouver, where he lives, and Toronto. In this area he is a recipient of multiple Lürzers Archive and Communication Arts awards as well as other international honors.


58 x 78 / 78 x 58 inches image size Edition of 1 – Price Upon Request.

42 x 56 / 56 x 42 inches image size Edition of 10, 1 Artist Proof – $4,600.00 Unframed

30 x 40 / 40 x 30 inches image size Edition of 10, 1 Artist Proof – $3,800.00 Unframed

16.25 x 22 / 22 x 16.25 inches image size Edition of 10, 1 Artist Proof – $900.00 Unframed

1070 Homer Street,
Vancouver, BC, V6B 2W9, Canada

T. 604.737.3969