Gassed 1918-19, by John Singer Sargent, 1850-1925.

Major exhibition of American First World War art

Posted on on 08 February 2014
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World War 1 and American Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts will be the first major exhibition to investigate the war's impact on American artists.

The war's influence on American art and culture was enormous. Nearly every major artist of the time produced work which addressed the war. Many artists were passionate about swaying public opinion for or against intervention whilst others kept their response private out of fear of repercussions or as their way of processing the conflict.

The exhibition seeks to revisit a critical moment in American history through the eyes of artists who had an important role in recording the impact of the war, crafting images that affected public opinion, supporting the US government's mobilisation efforts and helping to shape the way soldiers were remembered.

It will run from November 2016 to April 2017 and is timed to coincide with the centenary of America's intervention in the war. The Academy is planning a series of projects and partnerships alongside the exhibition.

                                  Destroy this Mad Brute 1916, H.R Hopps 1869-1937

Some artists showed the efforts of the Red Cross and other relief workers, or the effect that the war had on women and families on the home front. Others witnessed the devastation brought by the war on cities and on bodies, producing work haunted by the experience.

Once the war finally ended, artists produced major paintings that commemorated Armistice celebrations but also its human toll. The First World War also unfolded when modernist art was being digested, adapted, and transformed by the American art world.

                            Pestilence (War) 1918, Hugh Henry Breckenridge 1870-1937

Images made during the war reveal American artists in transition, using more experimental forms to capture the apocalyptic tenor of the conflict but also drawing on a straightforward realist manner to make the human experience accessible to their audience.

Among the numerous artists included will be: Ivan Albright, Cecelia Beaux, George Bellows, Hugh Breckenridge, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Henry Glitenkamp, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Lewis Hine, Carl Hoeckner, George Luks, Paul Manship, Joseph Pennell, Jane Peterson, Horace Pippin, Man Ray, Boardman Robinson, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Edward Steichen, and Claggett Wilson.

           Vorticism Landscape (War Impressions) Ca 1918, Edward Middleton Manigault 1887-1922

Source: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts press release

Images courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

Posted by: Mike Swain, Centenary News