ARTH-448-01 World War I and the Artists
Fall for 2016-2017
World War I -- the "Great War," the "War to end all wars" -- signaled the true end of the nineteenth century and the violent birth of the twentieth. The world was never quite the same again. Youth of all combatant nations eagerly volunteered to fight, some believing that war would cleanse what they viewed as the decadence of the end of the past century. But the strategy of "total war," the realities of trench warfare, and such newly invented barbarities as poison gas soon led to doubt, disillusionment and despair. From the Dadaists denouncing war from the safety of neutral Switzerland to officers scribbling verses and sketching in the trenches, artists, writers and filmmakers of every nationality reacted to the War, attempting to find artistic languages adequate to convey both the newness and the horror of their experience. In this seminar, we will examine the artistic heritage of the War in works by German, French, British and American artists in various media: original prints and paintings, propaganda, film, poetry and novels. Among other activities, we will visit the National Gallery print study room to view their significant collection of relevant material.