Tate Britain newest blockbuster exhibition, Aftermath and Art in the Wake of World War One looks at the impact of World War One on British, German and French art. The exhibition marks 100 years since the end of the First World War and focuses on how art was influenced by the tumultuous period in the aftermath of the war.
The first and second rooms look at memorials, and how the artistic choices of these memorials can have a unique psychological impact upon those who see them. In the years immediately after the end of the war, public processions and cenotaphs sprung up in Britain and France to commemorate those who had fought and lost their lives.
Next to be discussed is those who were wounded fighting, and how they came to be represented in art. Famously, George Grosz and Otto Dix depicted how disabled veterans were treated during this post-war era. As discussed in Science Museum’s incredible temporary exhibition Wounded a few years ago, wounded and disabled veterans were undeniably treated poorly. Although discussed in a medical context often, their lives rarely went back to any form of normality.
For someone who has limited understanding of the nuances of Art History, Aftermath and Art in the Wake of World War One gave in-depth, accessible historical accounts to begin to appreciate the social and political contexts of why these art works were created in such a tumultuous period of history. Terms such as dada and surrealism were explained in simplified and understandable terms for even the most inexperienced art viewer. Art, in its very essence, doesn’t ever exist in a vacuum – and for me, this was the overarching theme of Aftermath and Art in the Wake of World War One.