The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts's (PAFA) exhibition World War I and American Art will be the first major exhibition to explore the ways in which American artists reacted to the First World War. Approximately 120 objects dating from 1913-1938 will be featured including painting, sculpture, photography, drawings, prints, film, posters, and ephemera. It will include a broad range of artists who engaged the war in their work, from well-known figures such as George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, and Childe Hassam to lesser-known artists like Claggett Wilson.
The war’s impact on American art and culture was enormous, for nearly every major American artist of the time produced work that addressed the conflict. PAFA’s exhibition seeks to revisit this critical moment in American history through the eyes of artists in order to show how they responded to what was an unprecedented global event. The exhibition will include painting, drawings, prints, photographs, posters, and ephemera. Official war artists of the AEF to figures such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Horace Pippin will be included.
World War I and American Art will examine how American artists made sense of the global conflict and its aftermath through their art, as well as explore how the war changed the nature of American art. Following the chronological arc of the war, the exhibition will focus on how American artists translated their experience, opinions, and perceptions of the war in their work, tracing a chronology from the threat of war to debates about entering, navigating the home front to facing battlefields and field hospitals, and finally in reflecting on the armistice and post-war commemorations.
“World War I occurred at a time in which the American art world was changing rapidly and the art scene encompassed a diverse array of aesthetic viewpoints, political agendas, exhibition opportunities, and contact with European émigrés. PAFA’s exhibition will demonstrate that despite differences of working method, background, or philosophy, the war impacted nearly the entire American art community and pushed artists in new directions. The war put American artists to work making propaganda posters, camouflaging ships, and documenting the war in Europe. It inspired patriotic impulses and courageous political protest. Women and African Americans, who found their roles altered during the war, reflected on these changes in their artwork. The war transformed American culture and artists played a critical part in that shift.” ~PAFA Senior Curator and curator of the exhibition, Robert Cozzolino
World War I and American Art will be on view at PAFA from November 4, 2016 through April 9, 2017. This landmark exhibition will then travel to the New-York Historical Society (May-September 2017) and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (October 2017-January 2018).
The exhibition is organized by PAFA and team curated by Dr. Robert Cozzolino, PAFA’s Senior Curator and Curator of Modern Art; Dr. Anne Knutson, an independent scholar and curator; and Dr. David Lubin, the Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University.
World War I and American Art is made possible in part by major grants from both the Henry Luce Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Presenting Corporate Sponsor: Exelon Foundation and PECO. Additional funding provided by grants from the David A. and Helen P. Horn Charitable Trust, and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.
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