Post depictions. Expressionist and surrealist painters realized the need






World War 1 art development


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Post World War 1 art development

            The World War One was a demanding
mobilization of the citizens and culture of the nations involved. Artists were
inevitably involved to record historic happenings or to serve as a distraction
to the soldiers (Malvern, 2016). The war, which was
from 1914-1918, gave birth to artistic sensations that still have a legacy in
contemporary art.  The war shaped and
communicated art through poems, posters, carvings and legendary paintings from painters
such as Virginia Woolf, John Dos Passos, Hemingway and Otto Dix and George
Grosz. Visual arts were made to depict the moral chaos and its consequences
presented during the war (Johnson, 2012). Art was present
before the war but the war eruption gave rise to different art experiments to
portray the destruction caused by the war culturally, to the landscape and to
the people (Merjian, 2014). The need to
artistically depict the happenings of the World War 1 gave rise to art being
more embraced and praised. The World War 1 changed how art was created where
before the war, art was purely optimistic. After the war, art was seen to
incorporate pessimism in its depictions.  Expressionist and surrealist painters realized
the need to depict the distortions and struggles the world was going through,
which gave room for entrance of modern art. Some of the artistic sensations
influenced by the World War 1 have been highlighted below to emphasize on the
impact of the World War 1 to the society through artistic expressions.

Wyndham Lewis

            Lewis was well versed with knowledge
of the business war. He was already a leading light as the founder of the
cubism-inspired school as well as an author of the school’s journal Blast even
before the war began. His work of art, A Battery Shelled, was a construct based
on observations. Being a soldier too, the construct demonstrated a group of
soldiers looking out for the sterile landscape. The modernist art and poetry
movement inspired by Lewis was based on the unfolding human disaster the World
War 1 created. However, the art movement did not last due to the onset of the
world war and public criticism. Lewis redirected his energy to writing and
contentious art work.

Otto Dix

            Dix was a student in Dresden before
the war began and he devotedly joined the German army. He was participative in
as a gunner and was shot before the hostilities ended. His experiences in the
war influenced some of his most brilliant works of art. His work, Trench
Warfare in 1932, portrayed an atmosphere of evil and suffering. It was inspired
by the dreadfulness of the war he took part in. Dix’s determination to provoke
the public on war reality and imagery was not welcome but his work was used to
degenerate art in exhibitions. His other work included Triptych Metropolis and
Portrait of the Journalist, which depicted the disfigurations caused by the war
to the German society. Dix’s work is shown in the Otto-Dix-Haus Museum where
his over four hundred painting and works on paper are exhibited.

Paul Nash

            Paul’s artistic sensations by his
attempt to volunteer to the Artists Rifles but was injured and returned home.
After his experience, he became a full time war artist. His interest was guided
by the urge to be a messenger of the dreadful horrors of the war trenches. His
work, We are Making New world in 1918, portrayed non-inhabitation of humans in
the landscape. He targeted to show the rottenness of the landscape after the
war, which would be hard to restore and make sustainable again. His intention
was to bring to consciousness the negativity posed by the war. When the World
War 2 broke out, Nash progressed in his imagery depictions of the war
effects.  Paul Nash’s work in 1917, The
Menin Road, showed a ruined Belgian landscape that brought a sensation of
devastation and irrevocable change caused by the war (Robinson,

David Bomberg

            Bomberg was an artistic sensation in
his generation even before the World War 1 began. His inspirations were derived
from vorticism, futurism and cubism to develop art aesthetics. He drew his
artistic insights from nature. His experiences as a trench private soldier and
the loss of his brother to the war drove him to make responsive paintings of
the actual life of the war. His work, Sappers at Work, was a show of his loss
of faith in machine-age aesthetics.

Pablo Picasso

            Pablo was not a fighter himself,
however he watched his French friends go to the war. He was a modernist artist
who spent his war years in Paris and could not ignore the adopted influence of
the war. He watched the mainstream society and the country get torn by the war.
The change influenced by the war to Pablo was depicted through the Picasso: The
Great War, Experimentation and Change, which is exhibited by the Barnes
Foundation. Picasso embraced cubism in his artistic expressions to relate the
war effects. His World War 1 art expressions influenced his World War 2
response since his nation, Spain, joined in the blood bath. His works were an
open critic to the war and its negative impact to the society.

World War 1 helped
bring a new way of art creation, which pushed for change in aesthetic
representation of art and broke the convention of rules used to guide artists
before. In 1917 when the war was beginning, the artist James Montgomery Flagg
was requested to make poster to mobilize young people to join the US Army. This
is an indication that art was a great communicator before, during and after the
war. The difference formed was on the way art was created. Impressionism,
futurism, cubism and modernism was embraced to be the new way of art creation. The
idea of painting was changed through impressionist painting, which grew
persistent into the early modern era. Paintings such ‘Paths of Glory’ by
Christopher Nevinson in 1917 was a revelation of impressionism in the artist
pieces. It emphasized on use of brush strokes and nice colors to convey the war
mood. Before the war, art perceived to covey a happy mood and reveal beauty.
After the war, art became a revelation of the world’s brutality and the
pessimism derived from it. The painting ‘Gassed’ by the Briton painter John
Singer in 1919 shows the soldiers at war returning from the frontline after
being attacked by mustard gas. The general feeling derived from this piece is
sad the brutal experiences of the soldiers subjected to war and art was the
best way to reveal the inability of Europe to heal from the war. Otto Dix’s
work ‘Der Krieg (The War)’ was a revelation of the destruction caused to
Germany during the war. The painting raised issues on the morality of the war
since it depicted undesirable conditions fought in and deaths of the soldiers
during the war. Art after the war was free from rules and the artists had the
freedom to express the current state of things, whether positive or negative.
Most of the painting after the war were a tool of communication of destruction
to the participant countries of the war with the hope that the outcry will make
an impact to make the countries that were involved to come into a consensus (Tolson, 2006). The war revealed
the temporality of things and art was be used to reflect it. Temporality
features revealed through art of the post war include temporality of life, good
landscape and bonded relationships. War helped inspire modernism since the war
itself was modern and led to changes in how the community perceived each other.


Different artists
were influenced by the World War 1 after watching the war destroy their
nations. Difference in the artistic expressions was dependent on the country
the artist was in, direct relation to soldiers in the battlefield and the
impact the war had to their life. The impact was at a personal level since
habitants, the environment, their friends and families were subjected to the
ruthlessness of the war. Most artistic expressions of the war have been a depicting
the devastation and unsustainability the war caused in the society (Munro, 2012). Loss of friends and
families influenced the urge to make compassionate revelations and requests to
the people and the government to put an end to the war. The negativity of the
war had a greater impact to the nations involved rather than achieving the
political leadership and security expected. The depictions of life of the
soldiers in trenches fighting and lifeless bodies lying in the battlefield was
an outcry for the inhumanity of the war. The art depicted pain and the desire
to change the situation. The world war conflict gave rise to distortion of
culture and hierarchy of leadership systems. Jean Renoir’s ‘La Grande Illusion’
was a piece that portrayed how the war damaged beliefs with respect to honor
and hierarchy.

The war change the
stories the writers wrote and how they told them (Margery B.
Franklin, 2013).
The World War 1 created an extra ordinary legacy of painting in regard to
music, film, literature and painting to incorporate modernism. Modernism
challenged identities and raised questions in regard to how things are done and
the extent of damage they are causing. The rise of art modernism was created by
the prolonged war conflicts, which destroyed the countries the artists lived
in. The use of technological warfare items such as chemicals and machinery was
depicted through art. The undesirable technological exposure soldiers were
exposed to was destructive to them and the environment. Art was used to raise
awareness on the exposure to technological damage the war brought to the
battlefields. The painting ‘Gassed’ by John Singer was the use of art to reveal
technological warfare items that were used to cause brutality and destruction
to the soldiers and the nations. It showed that technology was not there to
help but destroy.  The German artist and
sculptor Kaethe Kollwitz had a collection of posters, woodcuts and deathly statues,
which depicted the rottenness of the war. War supporters that believed that the
war was in defense of the country based their literature on the positivity of
the war in guarding the country. The Briton poet Wilfred Owen in her work
perceived that it is proper to die for your country. Arthur Doyle in his work
wrote that pessimism in the war was not to be tolerated and appreciated and the
bravery of the soldiers in guarding the nation should be applauded. However,
the persistence of the war outgrew and destroyed their dream since the feeling
of hopelessness to the nations and the soldiers overwhelmed the feeling of
security and international superiority they wanted to provide to the people.

The modern
exhibitions, galleries and museums have embraced exhibiting post-war literature
to portray what the war was like and the impact it had. War literature has been
seen as an interesting art combination, which draws the interest of many (Rogers, 2014). The New York
Society Library exhibits features from Wellington House, which are post-war
based literature specializations. The main contributors of the literature are
Thomas Hardy, J.M. Barrie and Arthur Doyle, whose work is based on their visit
to the troops in 1916.  The Metropolitan
Museum of Art held an exhibition in commemoration of the First World War. The
exhibition focused on the horrors presented by the war. The works of art
exhibited portray the variety in responses to war such as defense enthusiasm on
the purpose of the war to portraying the carnage, devastation and destruction
impacted by the war. The exhibition highlighted art works from artists such as
Otto Dix, Christopher Nevinson, Kathe Kollwitz, George Grosz, Gino Severini,
Fernand Leger and Edward Steichen. It portrayed a picture of the varying
ideologies, approaches and styles in response to the war and its impact to
modernism in art. The Guggenheim Bilbao Museo has also been on the forefront to
exhibit post-war artistic literature. It hosted an American and European
postwar art to reveal the difference in opinions on the occurrences of the
World War 1 and the artistic developments that did take place.

In conclusion, art
development was greatly influenced by the World War 1. The difference on how
art was perceived before the war and after the war is quite evident. The
disparity arises since art before the World War was used to express beauty and
honor while after the war, art was used to express a feeling of devastation and
destruction. There was a shift in the mood of art from a happy and jovial mood
to a sad mood. Art expression was change through modernism since the war itself
was a tool of modernization. The influence of the war to art changed how
artists perceived art and how they created art. The embrace of vorticism,
futurism, expressionism and cubism as artist movements meant to bring change
led to a notable difference in how art conveyed situations and occurrences of
the World War 1. The supporter of the war such as Wilfred Owen and Arthur Doyle
expressed their art literature with the idea of expressing positive insights to
the war. They aimed at giving insights that the war and their soldiers being
involved in the war gave a sense of security and safety to the people and the
nation. However, most of the post war artistic expression portray destruction
caused by the World War to the soldiers, the citizens, the governance systems
and the environment. Artistic work form Otto Dix, Christopher Nevinson, David Bomberg, Pablo Picasso, Kathe Kollwitz, Virginia Woolf, John Dos Passos, George Grosz,
Gino Severini, Fernand Leger, Hemingway, Wyndham
Lewis, Paul Nash and Edward Steichen are a revelation of negativity of
the war in regard to how it was conducted and the people who were involved. The
art reveals negligence on humanity, use of destructive technology,
environmental damage and hopelessness in the war. The ending of the war gave
birth to great modernized art literature based on personal expressions and
thoughts about the impact of the war. The post-World War 1 art growth towards
free expression and modernism was so beneficial in expression of the impact of
the World War 2 through art. In today’s society, post-World War 1 art
literature is still exhibited in galleries, exhibitions and museums to show the
intensity in ideologies of the impact created by the war. The New York Society
Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum have been on
the frontline to exhibit artist developments influenced by the World War 1.




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