The Tate Britain Revisits the Wounds of the Great War

Tombs of soldiers, trenches, the ruins of battle fields, evoke the Great War one-hundred years after its end. To tell of the immediate impact of the conflict on British, German and French art, to detail the response of artists to the physical and psychological scars left on Europe, are 150 works gathered at the Tate Britain, created between 1916 and 1932 by artists like George Grosz, Fernand Léger and C.R.W. Nevinson. After the armistice, artists like Käthe Kollwitz, André Mare and Charles Sargeant Jagger were given the task of producing official memorial sculptures which were meant, above all, to be points of reference for mourning and remembrance. Following a common thread that explores the debates surrounding the appropriate styles and forms of the memorials themselves, as well as their importance for social and political cohesion, the exhibition also looks at the more personal reminders created using relics from the battlefields, such as shrapnel and grenades. While in Germany, works such as Grey Day (1921) by George Grosz and Prostitute and Disabled War Veteran of 1923 by Otto Dix looked to the images of disabled veterans to offer social criticism of the corruption and poverty in the Country, in Great Britain, the images of wounded soldiers - like the protagonists of the pastel portraits of Henry Tonks - were considered within a context of therapy and healing. However, this period also saw the birth of Dada and Surrealism in the works of Hannah Höch, Max Ernst, André Masson and Edward Burra, among others. The artists turned to new visual forms to elaborate the experiences and memories of the war. Besides looking at the physical and psychological scars left on Europe, the exhibition also looks at how society began to rebuild after the war, with a return to classicism by artists such as Georges Braque, Christian Schad and Winifred Knights.
Samantha De Martin - © 2018 for Bulgari Hotel London