Tate Britain explores World War One's artful impact, showcasing a new exhibit of the era's artists and their interpretations of its aftermath
This year is the centenary of the end of the First World War. To mark its passing, a landmark exhibition at Tate Britain is set to explore the impact of the war on the generation of artists that lived through it.
Entitled Aftermath: Art In The Wake of World War One, it brings together more than 150 works dating from 1916 to 1932 by artists including George Grosz, Fernand Léger and C R W Nevinson. It traces the ways in which new images and techniques were used to relay responses to the experience of frontline combat, the culture of remembrance, and the rebuilding of cities, countries and war-torn communities.
The exhibition opens with tragic battlefield scenes by William Orpen and Paul Jouve, committing the horrors of the conflict to Europe’s memory. It then moves to explore the new wave of public monuments that provided the focus for mourning after the war’s end, foregrounding experimental sculptures by artists including Käthe Kollwitz, André Mare and Charles Sargeant Jagger.
The birth of Surrealism in Europe is also explored, with works from Hannah Höch, Max Ernst and Edward Burra (The Snack Bar, 1930, pictured) that seek to process the memories of soldiers. Elsewhere, images of disabled veterans are used as visual metaphors by artists such as George Grosz and Otto Dix.
Finally, the exhibition charts how the art world responded to the rebuilding of European society after the war; some artists returned to classicism, while others embraced visions of a technological future.
Impressive and affecting, a visit to Aftermath is a thought- provoking way to mark history’s bloodiest conflict.