World War I and American Art

The first major exhibition devoted to exploring the ways in which American artists reacted to the First World War

  • Hugh Henry Breckenridge, <em>The Pestilence</em> (formerly <em>War</em>), ca. 1918, Oil on canvas, 65 3/16 x 80 1/4 inches, Gift of the Artist, 1928.10

    Hugh Henry Breckenridge, The Pestilence (formerly War), ca. 1918, Oil on canvas, 65 3/16 x 80 1/4 inches, Gift of the Artist, 1928.10

Coinciding with the centenary of America’s involvement with the war, World War I and American Art will be the first major exhibition devoted to exploring the ways in which American artists reacted to the First World War.

World War I and American Art seeks to revisit a critical moment in American history through the eyes of artists in order to show how they responded to what was an unprecedented global experience. Artists had a leading role in chronicling the impact of the war, crafting images that affected public opinion, supporting the U.S. government’s mobilization efforts, and helping to shape the way soldiers were remembered in its wake. 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 or memorialized its human toll.

World War I also unfolded when modernist art was being digested, adapted, and transformed by the American art world. 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 artists included will be: Ivan Albright, Cecelia Beaux, George Bellows, Howard Chandler Christy, James Montgomery Flagg, Henry Glintenkamp, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Lewis Hine, Carl Hoeckner, George Luks, Joseph Pennell, Jane Peterson, Horace Pippin, Man Ray, Boardman Robinson, Norman Rockwell, John Singer Sargent, Edward Steichen, and Claggett Wilson.     

 

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