London Art Reviews

Magazine of art press and reviews from London

The Great War in Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

The Great War in Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Editorial Staff – Sunday, 15th June 2014

  • First national exhibition of the First World War centenary commemorations
  • 80 paintings, photographs, sculpture, films and drawings show the human experience of war
  • Portraits of Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Edith Cavell, Mata Hari and Winston Churchill
  • Works by Beckmann, Kirchner, Orpen, Tonks, Rosenberg and Epstein
Selbstbildnis als Soldat (Self-portrait as a Soldier) by Ludwig Kirchner, 1915 © Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio

Selbstbildnis als Soldat (Self-portrait as a Soldier) by Ludwig Kirchner, 1915 © Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, Ohio

The National Portrait Gallery is to stage the first national exhibition of the First World War centenary commemorations. The Great War in Portraits is the start of a four-year public programme at the Gallery of displays and events, and workshops for young people.

Showing how the First World War was depicted and reported with a degree of visual detail unprecedented in the history of conflict, the exhibition includes photography and film as well as formal portraits. The approach to this exhibition is totally new: representing the Great War through portraits of those involved.

The Great War in Portraits takes an international perspective, putting together iconic portraits with those from all social classes who served from throughout the Commonwealth and contrasts these portraits with rare important loans of German expressionist masterpieces.

The Great War in Portraits shows how, following the declarations of war throughout Europe, power devolved from the heads of state to the military leaders of each country. Power-portraits of Haig, Blumer, Foch, Hindenburg and others, are contrasted with portraits of the ‘followers,’ by Sickert, Orpen and other war artists.

An installation of 40 photographs in a regular grid formation presents a range of protagonists from medal winners and heroes to the dead and the executed, interspersed with artists, poets, memoirists and images representing the roles played by women, the home front and, the Commonwealth.

Key loans have been secured from Imperial War Museums, Tate, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus und Kunstbau, Munich, Allen Memorial Art Museum, the Royal Airforce Museum, Hendon, Oberlin College, Ohio, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

The exhibition and the Gallery’s First World War activities are part of First World War Centenary, the national partnership of commemorative events www.1914.org

The exhibition is curated by Paul Moorhouse, Curator of Twentieth Century Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London.

From 27th February until the 15th June 2014, The Great War in Portraits is at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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This entry was posted on June 16, 2014 by in Museums, News and tagged , , , .

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