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The Art and Literature of the Great War

David Gariff, senior lecturer, National Gallery of Art.  

The First World War, known as the Great War, was also the first modern war, claiming millions of lives, in part, by newly invented weapons such as the machine gun, tank, aircraft, and poison gas. The arts of the period present a portrait of the terrible price paid by humanity—the carnage and suffering caused by the war were documented in paintings, sculptures, novels, memoirs, and poems produced both during, and immediately after, the struggle. In this presentation on March 27, 2019, senior lecturer David Gariff explores the responses of artists and writers to the trauma of the First World War, which transcended national boundaries. Paintings, sculptures, and prints by Otto Dix, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Käthe Kollwitz, Fernand Léger, John Singer Sargent, and Natalija Goncharova; poems by Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, and Anna Akhmatova; and memoirs and novels by Ernest Hemingway, Erich Maria Remarque, and Robert Graves are discussed against the backdrop of “the war to end all wars.”