London’s Imperial War Museum is marking the Centenary of the outbreak of World War I with a wide-ranging and often deeply moving display of the work of British war artists of the period.
Entitled Truth and Memory, it takes a chronological view of the war, charting how artists’ perceptions and approaches changed as the conflict war on and the realties of mechanized warfare sank in.
It is the largest exhibition of Britsh World War I art to be staged in almost 100 years and features work both by well-known artists such as Stanley Spencer and CRW Nevinson and lesser known individuals including Anna Airy and George Clausen.
There is a world of difference between works such as Nevinson’s La Mitrailleuse (1915) which highlights the futuristic, technical aspect of modern war, and the artist’s ironically titled Paths of Glory, painted two years later, which depicts the human cost of war in the shape of two dead British soldiers by a barbed-wire entanglement.
The Imperial War Museum is also marking the Centenary by opening a new, permanent gallery devoted to World War I. The displays have cost more than £40m and include such items as original recruitment posters, a reconstructed section of trench and a British tank.