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    World War I: War of Images, Images of War

    November 18, 2014–April 19, 2015

    Getty Research Institute

    Detail of Englishman and His Globe: Man sliding off of red globe on dark background

    The Englishman and His Globe, Thomas Theodor Heine, 1914. Cover of Simplicissimus vol. 19, no. 28 (detail). 85-S1389. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn. Reproduction, including downloading of ARS member artist works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Map of Europe with title text: Karte Von Europa Im Jahre 1914

    Map of Europe in the Year 1914, Walter Trier, 1915. From Das Plakat 6, no. 6. 1526-817. © The Trier Fodor Foundation

  • Digitized journal: À coups de baïonnette 9 (June 1917). Image pp. 424–25: “I Have You My Captain. You Won’t Fall.” Paul Iribe, 1917. 93-S507
    Note: Click page to turn

  • Cover of publication with text "le mot", and image of man in uniform with gun

    After the Execution, Paul Iribe, 1915. Cover of Le mot 1, no. 5. 84-S761
    Fully digitized versions of Le mot journals are available on Gallica.

  • Hand drawing of a large cat with human face

    VASKA THE PRUSSIAN CAT: The Russian Foe, 1914. From Kartinki—voina russkikh s nemtsami, pl. 28. 92-F293

  • Poster of ape wearing a spiked helmet, carrying bloody club and fainting woman

    Destroy this Mad Brute—Enlist, Harry R. Hopps, ca. 1917. Lent by The Louis and Jodi Atkin Family Collection, Modern Graphic History Library, Washington University Libraries

  • Cover of paper with title Kriegszeit and image of snarling animal

    The Dardanelles, August Gaul, 1915. Cover of Kriegszeit Künstlerflugblätter, no. 34, 87-S641. Display Copy: Lent by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies, purchased with funds provided by Anna Bing Arnold, Museum Associates Acquisitions Fund, and deaccession funds

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    Open diary on black background

    Audio: War diary, Umberto Boccioni, 1915, pp. 9v-10r. 880380

  • Page of letters streaming up from silhouette of woman

    In the Evening, Lying in Her Bed, She Rereads the Letter from Her Artilleryman at the Front, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, 1917. From Les mots en liberté futuristes, pp. 105–6. 87-B6595. © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / SIAE, Rome. Reproduction, including downloading of ARS member artist works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

  • Video: The Carso = A Rat’s Nest: A Night in a Sinkhole + Mice in Love, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Ca. 1917. 870379. 2 min., 12 sec.

  • Cow shoulder bone with paint and illustrations

    Cow shoulder bone painted by a German soldier on the eastern front, Anonymous (German), 1916. Lent by Jane A. Kimball, Trench Art Collection

  • Rendering of a soldier

    Grenade Thrower, Henry de Groux, 1914–16. From Le visage de la victoire. 2004.PR.34

  • Soldier attacking another soldier out of darkness.

    In the Darkness, Félix Vallotton, 1915–16. 2004.PR.1. Gift of Dr. & Mrs. Richard A. Simms

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    Photo of Otto Dix

    Audio: Translated excerpt of Otto Dix Speaks about Art, Religion, War, Otto Dix, 1976. 94-R7. Courtesy Erker Galerie

World War I: War of Images, Images of War

November 18, 2014–April 19, 2015, Getty Research Institute

"The war to end all wars was fought not only on battlefields, but on easels, drawing boards, and sketchpads." The Atlantic

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The first major war of the 20th century, World War I (1914–1918) unleashed modern technologies of killing and devastation never before seen. The final toll was staggering: 20 million dead, 21 million wounded, incalculable damage to the landscape, towns, and cities of Europe. With the downfall of three empires, the map of Europe, and indeed the world, was redrawn.

In this first war fought by an entire generation of modern artists, culture was enlisted as an integral part of the conflict. Nations waged war over who would lead Europe—politically, economically, and above all culturally—through the 20th century. In the decades before the war, modern art had been a truly international phenomenon, with people, artworks, and ideas moving freely across national borders. But this energetic artistic exchange quickly closed down, and battle lines were drawn not simply between nations but between cultures.

This exhibition examines World War I from two perspectives: the representation of the war in propaganda, and the depiction of war by artists who experienced the brutality firsthand. In keeping with past wars, propaganda aimed to contrast a culturally superior self-image with a vilified, barbaric enemy. However, a new dimension developed whereby popular journals and other graphic media depicted the enemy not just as a military threat, but as a threat to the future of European civilization. Soldiers serving at the front, by contrast, encountered a reality that bore no relation to the fiction of propaganda. Their idealism quickly led to disenchantment. The war of images ultimately clashed with images of war.

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Related Events

Lecture Series
The Mediated War: Karl Kraus's Docudrama The Last Days of Mankind

Lecture by Marjorie Perloff
Sunday, January 25, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
Museum Lecture Hall, Getty Center

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Representing Trauma: World War I

Lectures by Gordon Hughes and Paul Lerner and Film Screening of Ballet Mécanique
Sunday, February 22, 2015, 2:00 p.m.
Museum Lecture Hall, Getty Center

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Bombing the Cathedral of Reims

Lecture by Thomas W. Gaehtgens
Thursday, March 19, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Museum Lecture Hall, Getty Center

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Gallery Tours

Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m.
December 2–16, 2014
March 10–31 and April 14, 2015

Thursdays at 2:00 p.m.
November 20, 2014–April 16, 2015

Note: No tours on November 27, December 25, and January 1

Around the Web

photograph during explosion at the Cathedral of Reims
Bombing the Cathedral of Reims

Getty Iris article by Thomas W. Gaehtgens, January 23, 2015. A look back at a decisive moment that drove French and German intellectuals to the embrace of nationalism

Detail, propogada print
"I Declare War on All Europe"

Getty Iris article by Christina Aube and Nancy Perloff, November 18, 2014. Two propaganda prints of the German emperor from 1914

Watercolor detail
A Wartime Apocalypse, in Miniature

Getty Iris article by Anja Foerschner, August 1, 2014. Watercolors of Ernst Ludwig Kirchner on the back of cigarette packages express his hopes and fears about World War I

Black and white photo of two young women
Europeana 1914–1918

Films, historical material, and resources from libraries and archives across the globe with memories and memorabilia from families throughout Europe



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