Art of War

12 May

I was browsing the stacks at the library the other day when I ran into this documentary.  “Art of War – The Story of the First World War as Told Through Art”, it’s called.  In the 49 minutes the doc covered, I learned an awful lot about The Great War while seeing some unforgettable art work.

WWI had the greatest loss of life of any conflict in history.  The type of warfare changed dramatically before.  In previous wars you had guns and knives.  You fought the enemy face to face.  Now you were still being sent into the field but there was a greater chance that you’d be hit by a cannon, mustard gas or the newest and scariest machine, a tank.

The artists during this time period were no longer content to display war is something that was heroic and patriotic.  They wanted to show how it really felt to those who experienced it first hand.  This was the first war where artists showed soldiers looking tired and defeated.  It wasn’t about glorifying what was happening on the field; it was about expressing the horrors of war for those on the outside.

It’s been almost a hundred years but as I looked at the art I could see the violence and the fear.  The new school of Cubism was used to show soldiers as machines and not as humans.  When you see the image of the new tanks you can imagine how frightening they were and how impersonal.

This doc helped me to understand just how demoralizing the after effects were for the Germans.  They not only lost but they returned to a country in poverty and where the victors had taken control.  It set up an environment of discontent that led to WWII.  I still would like to know more about the first world war but I now feel like I understand just how different this war was from what came before and what it meant to history.


2 Responses to “Art of War”


  1. Smurfs Up! « Trip Ahoy! - 2011/05/13

    […] last few posts on this blog have been kind of dreary.  Unless you find syphillis and the machinery of war a jolly good time, that is.  So I thought today would be a good time to talk about the Smurfs.  […]

  2. A Very Long Engagement (2004) « Trip Ahoy! - 2011/05/26

    […] down the moment their heads appear from the trenches. Some of the paintings I learned about in the Art of War are faithfully reproduced here, such as men blind from mustard gas leading each other through the […]

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