W​orld War I and American Art

Exhibition Website

May 26 2017 - Sep 3 2017

How did American artists respond to the First World War? Coinciding with the centennial of America’s involvement in the war, World War I Beyond the Trenches explores how artists across generations, aesthetic sensibilities, and the political spectrum used their work to depict, memorialize, promote, or oppose the divisive conflict. The first major museum exhibition to revisit this global event through the eyes of American artists, the exhibition will transform our understanding of art made during the war and in its wake. Highlights include John Singer Sargent's spectacular "Gassed," which has not traveled to New York in decades; works by George Bellows, Georgia O’Keeffe, Horace Pippin, Man Ray, Edward Steichen, and Claggett Wilson; and a contemporary artwork by artist Debra Priestly.

[Featured works exclusive to New-York Historical’s exhibition will include Chairman Emeritus Richard Gilder's recent gift to New-York Historical of Childe Hassam's The Fourth of July, 1916, which depicts Fifth Avenue bedecked with dozens of American flags in celebration of Independence Day one hundred years ago, when New Yorkers rallied with patriotic fervor to support the “Preparedness Movement” in anticipation of the nation’s entry into the War. Also exclusive to New-York Historical’s presentation will be an extravaganza of World War I posters from New-York Historical's own collection, some of which have never before been on public view; and a "toyscape" of World War I soldiers and accessories from the recently-acquired Robert C. Postal Collection of Toy Soldiers accompanied by surrounding motion graphics.]

Credit: Exhibition overview from the New-York Historical Society's website.

Whether or not you go, World War I and American Art provides an unprecedented consideration of the impact of the conflict on American artists and the myriad ways they reacted to it. World War I had a profound impact on American art and culture. Nearly every major artist responded to events, whether as official war artists, impassioned observers, or participants on the battlefields. It was the moment when American artists, designers, and illustrators began to consider the importance of their contributions to the wider world and to visually represent the United States' emergent role in modern global politics. Artists took a leading role in chronicling the war, crafting images that influenced public opinion, supported mobilization efforts, and helped to shape how the appalling human toll was mourned and memorialized. Taking readers from the home front to the battlefront, this book features some 80 artists--including Ivan Albright, George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, Childe Hassam, Violet Oakley, Georgia O'Keeffe, Man Ray, John Singer Sargent, and Claggett Wilson--whose paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, posters, and ephemera span the diverse visual culture of the period to tell the story of a crucial turning point in the history of American art.

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  • American
  • 20th Century
  • History
  • John Singer Sargent
  • George Bellows
  • Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Horace Pippin
  • Man Ray
  • Edward Steichen
  • Debra Priestly
  • Claggett Wilson
  • Childe Hassam
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates