Ernest Fosbery, Sergeant T. W. Holmes, V.C. around 1918 © Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario 19710261-0148

Canadian War Museum opens new exhibitions to mark First World War Centenary

Posted on on 11 April 2014
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The Canadian War Museum in Ottawa has launched its programme to commemorate the Centenary of the First World War, with two new exhibitions which explore the conflict through art.

They opened on the 10th April and will run until the 21st September 2014.

Transformations - AY Jackson & Otto Dix and Witness - Canadian Art of the First World War are the first in a series of exhibitions and activities being planned by the museum over the next five years to mark the 100th anniversary of the war.


Transformations explores the works of Canadian A.Y. Jackson and German Otto Dix, both of who fought in the First World War.

Jackson was a painter by profession, but enlisted in 1915 to fight in the conflict. Having been wounded in June 1916 at the Battle of Mount Sorrell, he saw frontline combat which would influence his work. Jackson later served as an official war artist and was part of the artistic circle, the Group of Seven.

A. Y. Jackson, A Copse, Evening, 1918, © Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario 

Otto Dix is known for his brutal depictions of warfare. Serving in the German Army on both the Western and Eastern Fronts, Dix took part in the 1916 Battle of the Somme before being shot in the neck in the summer of 1918. The painter and printmaker's art is regarded as some of the most realistic and ruthless depictions of fighting during the First World War.

Otto Dix, Zerfallender Kampfgraben (Trench in Ruins), 1924, © Estate of Otto Dix/SODRAC (2014)/National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario 

Arranged chronologically into five sections, from their early years to their deaths, this exhibition displays over 70 paintings, drawings and prints from public and private collections in Canada, Germany and the United States.


Witness has been developed by the Canadian War Museum with the support of National Gallery of Canada.

It examines how Canadians, both those at home and those fighting overseas, depicted their First World War experiences in art. Examples of work comes from both official war artists and trench artists.

Daniel Sherrin, British Tank in Action,1917, © Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario 19880154-001

A wide variety of works ranging from large canvas pieces completed in studios in Canada and England during and immediately after the war will be on display, alongside sketches and drawings made in trenches and prisoner-of-war camps. Witness will present works which have never been exhibited before.

The Canadian War Museum has said that it hopes the exhibitions will "illuminate one of the most important periods in Canadian history".

Douglas Culham, Mud Road to Passchendaele, around 1917, © Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario 19890222-001

Source: Canadian War Museum press release

Date of press release publication: 09/04/2014

Images courtesy of the Canadian War Museum

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News