Capturing the Horrors The Art of World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special


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The Arts Are Man

s means of expression for a mass audience. Music, film, or the fine arts give us a window into another person, and allow us to, at least in part, share his or her experiences. And What if those experiences include War Modern War. Well, that

S What We

ll look at today. I m Indy Neidell; welcome to a Great War Special episode about art and the First World War. As you may guess, art and war have been connected since the beginning of recorded history.

, And Some Of The Earliest Known

images of any kind from Assyria or Egypt are battle scenes.. Romans would use images on things like arches, such as the one of Titus that shows the looting of Jerusalem. Now,. The purpose of this ancient art was to glorify leaders and victories, and to impress enemies or subjects; the actual experiences of soldiers, civilians, or the world around them weren

T Really Of Much Interest.

That continued for hundreds and hundreds of years, but later on, certainly after the Renaissance, you can see some changes. The Frenchman Jacques Callot, for example,, did a series of 18 prints during the 30 Years War that showed the countryside ravaged by the war. Francisco Goya s UK of War

Showed The Brutal Effect Of The

Napoleonic wars on the Spanish people, and Antoine Jean Gros images of Napoleon himself, while they depict an atmosphere of suffering, emphasize Napoleon s compassion rather than his military prowess. The art of the First World War continued this but was in many ways a huge break from traditional war imagery. It wasn

  • paintings
  • art
  • depictions
  • arts
  • depict

T Focused On The Leaders, It Often Depicted The

common soldier, or devastated landscapes, or the effect of the war on peoples Psyche. Look at William Orpen s UK Somme, a clear day or Otto Dix

  • art war connected beginning
  • ancient art glorify
  • traditional war imagery wasn focused
  • battle scenes romans use images
  • purpose ancient art

S Series Of Prints, Uk Krieg

and you ll see what I mean. One driving force behind this was that many of the artists were also soldiers in the war, and you can see from the interconnection between their art and the war, that nothing would or could ever be the same again. -culturally, stylistically, or socially.

Now, The War Actually Came On The

heels of the Modernist art movement, and in Modernism, the artist abandons the idea of representing reality and traditional perspectives, so there was a big trend toward abstraction before the war. Picasso was developing Cubism. ; Futurism was founded in Italy in 1909; British artists, such as Canadian Born Wyndham Lewis, were developing. Vorticism, partly as a response to Cubism, and the Russian avant-garde had flourished for more than 20 years before the war. .

Many Modernists, Especially The Futurists, Welcomed The

war with open arms,, especially after the Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913 had excited imaginations about the technology of Modern War. But Modernism did seem perfectly adapted to war; modern technology and industry were major subjects, machine guns, cars,, airplanes,. . . and the distortions and fragmentation of, for example.

, Cubism, Were Symbolic Means Of Expressing

wars destruction and its break with the past,, but as the war unfolded, there soon came a sense of art s impotence to really convey the horrors of the war. , and a limit of paint as a medium to express sensations such as the overwhelming noise and the ghastly stench. Art was, of course, used for military purposes.

, And I Don

t mean just propaganda. I mean camouflage, for. Thing, or the British Dazzle Ships program, which was complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colors painted on ships which wasn t for concealment,, but was to make it difficult for enemy subs and ships to estimate a target

S Heading, Speed, Or Range.

This used different styles like Pointillism, counter shadow, and Vorticism. . There were also official government initiatives for artists to narrate and record the war. Britain had an official war artist scheme, and Muirhead Bone became Britain

S First Official War Artist In 1916.

. There were several others including a woman, Anna Airy, who wasn t sent to the front like the others, but instead did paintings of the armaments industry at home. Now, Germany did not have an official artistic program,, but some of the paintings that most capture the war and its effects were German, and were painted by people like George Grosz, Franz Marc, Max Beckmann, and Otto Dix, who I mentioned earlier.

Their Depictions Of The Realities Of The

war. All got into Hitler s 1937 exhibition of UK Art . Symbols that often appeared in the art of the war were things like wounded men,, dead and bare trees, airplanes, and machine guns.

-Images That Hadn

t had a major part in art until Modernism and the war. Postwar, though, you had new tones to art, such as irony, like Paul Nash s painting we are making a new world

, And There Also Was The Rise Of

the Dadaist Movement, an avant-garde movement that began in neutral Zurich in 1915 and quickly spread. Dada very very much expressed disgust with the war,, but though the Dada artists shared a sensibility, they didn t necessarily share a style. They had lost faith in their culture, and believed everything had to be begun again from nothing. .

There Was Absurdity And Nonsense, Surrealism

and nightmares, and perhaps above all the failure of logic and rationalism.. The Dada movement continued worldwide after the War, but it s not within my scope to really talk much about it. In fact, you should look up Dada, Modernism, and the other movements and trends I talked about today for yourself to get a better idea of what they were influenced by, and what they in turn influenced;.

This Was Just A Brief Introduction.

It s fascinating how quickly our perceptions and our means of expression can change, from positive to negative, to style after style in only a few short months,, but of course, what could possibly affect an artist more than the horrors of Modern War Very Little. We will of course tell the stories of these men that found art as a coping mechanism for what they have been through. One of these men was Erich Maria Remarque, whose book All Quiet on the Western Front is one of the most prominent texts against war itself.


You can find out more about the book and the man behind it right here. A special thanks goes out to Madeleine Johnson for her help in researching this important topic of World War 1. .

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if you liked what you saw. See you Thursdays. .


Indy Neidell: Art and war have been connected since the beginning of recorded history . He says the art of the First World War continued this but was in many ways a huge break from traditional war imagery . It wasn&t focused on the leaders, it often depicted the common soldier, or devastated landscapes, or the effect of the war on people&s Psyche. The interconnection between their art and the war, that nothing would or could ever be connected to art and war, would never have been without the interconnection of art, such as William Orpen or Otto Dix, who were also soldiers in the war . And What if those experiences include War Modern War, that we&ll look at today? We’ll look at this episode today. We&ll take a look at some of the first World War images of the Great War Specials from around the world’s first war in the U.S. and the first Great War in the UK and the Second World War…. Click here to read more and watch the full video