08 Jun 2017

The War to End All Wars: Artists and World War I

Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Reviewed by Arthur Whitman

The work of Johnson curator Nancy Green, "The War to End All Wars" is a characteristic extravaganza. Taken from divers campus collections, the show tackles military as well as art history, with helmets and uniforms meeting art on paper.

Color lithograph recruitment posters, mostly American, veer between levity and jingoism. Tales from the field betray greater depth. Two similar intaglios - by the American Kerr Eby and the British James McBey - use stark chiaroscuro, placing us behind firing artillery.

German modernism is traced from the Romantic pastoral of the pre-war Expressionist groups through the anti-war, anti-bourgeois approach of the Neue Sachlichkeit artists.

American realists John Sloan and Philip Reisman come across as contemporaries of Max Beckmann, George Grosz, and Otto Dix. Reisman’s etching Veterans, World War 1 centers on three doll-like amputees improbably pedaling bicycles in a loop while a city crowd watches. His umbrage is palpable.

Exhibition The War to End All Wars: Artists and World War I link
Start date 21 Jan 2017
End date 11 Jun 2017
Presenter Johnson Museum of Art link
Venue Cornell University, 114 Central Avenue, Ithaca, NY, USA map
Image Otto Dix, Blinder, 1923, lithograph, acquired through the Professor and Mrs. M.H. Abrams Purchase Fund, courtesy of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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