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London at War Ulrike Smalley Curator Department of Art.

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Presentation on theme: "London at War Ulrike Smalley Curator Department of Art."— Presentation transcript:

1 London at War Ulrike Smalley Curator Department of Art

2 London during the First World War Norman Arnold, An October Night Raid on London, 1917: Seen from the Royal College of Science, 1918

3 London during the First World War Walter Bayes, The Underworld: Taking cover in a Tube Station during a London air raid, 1918

4 Second World War The War Artists’ Advisory Committee - founded 1939 by Kenneth Clark (Director National Gallery) - employed artists on a salaried basis, commissioned paintings and bought material sent in by artists - collected c 6000 works of art by more than 400 artists, covering the home front, all military branches and various theatres of war - war art was exhibited in London, the UK and neutral countries, as well as used to illustrate numerous publications

5 War Pictures by British Artists ‘Blitz’, published 1942, Introduction by J.B. Morton ‘Those who hold that to tell the truth is the most effective from of propaganda will find their demand satisfied by the pictures reproduced in this book.’ ‘Air Raids’, published 1943, Introduction by Stephen Spender ‘In this war, by “War Pictures” we mean, pre-eminently, paintings of the Blitz.[...] The background to this war, corresponding to the Western Front in the last war, is the bombed city; [...]’ War Pictures by British Artists, introduction by R.H. Wilenski, no publication date ‘There is a place for the descriptive artist because there are aspects of descriptive recording which, in fact, are beyond the camera’s power; and there is a place also for the subjective artist because it is only in the totalitarian slave states that individual impressions and comments are feared and made taboo.’

6 War Pictures by British Artists, published 1942, introduction by R. Gleadow ‘The business of the War Artists’ Advisory Committee is to set painters, draughtsmen and sculptors to make “records” of the war. Records may be of facts, but they may also be of ideas and emotions. […] The records of facts, events, emotions and ideas which these artists are making for the Government, now at last their eager patron, are a small, sheer gain to set for all time against the hideous waste of war; and though they cannot be fully worthy of their vast and awful subject, they may, like faded relics in a forgotten drawer, one day faintly stir the curiosity, the pity and perhaps the envy of generations more free and careless than ours, by giving them some hint of what was done and felt and seen by their forbears, young and old, in these hard, proud times.’

7 Blackout Ruskin Spear, The Black-out, 1942

8 Life goes on Kenneth Rowntree, Foreign Service-men in Hyde Park: Early summer, 1940

9 Fire fighting Leonard Rosoman, A House Collapsing on Two Firemen, Shoe Lane, London, EC4, 1940

10 Sheltering Henry Moore, Women and Children in the Tube, 1940 Henry Moore, Tube Shelter Perspective, 1941

11 Sheltering Edmond Xavier Kapp, Snorers Sheltering in any Tube Station, 1941

12 Sheltering Feliks Topolski, The Warehouse Shelter in Commercial Road, East End, 1940

13 Sheltering Edward Ardizzone, Waiting to Go Into the Tube, 1940

14 Working Ruskin Spear, Scene in an Underground Train, 1943: Workers returning from night shift

15 Working Frank Dobson, An Escalator in an Underground Factory, 1944

16 Aftermath Anthony Gross, A Gas Main on Fire in Chelsea, 1940

17 Aftermath Edward Ardizzone, Bombed Out, 1941

18 Ruined City Muirhead Bone, St Bride's and the City after the Fire, 29 December 1940

19 Ruined City Dennis Flanders, London: Clearance of debris between Gresham Street and St Paul's, 1941, 1942

20 Ruined City Ian Strang, London Bridge Station, London, SE1, 1943 Ian Strang, Cripplegate, London, EC1, 1943

21 Ruined City Norma Bull, Effigies of Crusaders in Round Temple Church, London: after damage enemy action, 194?

22 Ruined City Graham Sutherland, The City: A fallen lift shaft, 1941

23 Blitz Myth B Howitt-Lodge, London 'Carries On', 1940

24 Social Issues Ethel Gabain, Boys from South-East London gathering Sticks in Cookham Wood, 1940 Ethel Gabain, A Crèche, 1942-1943

25 Social Issues John Minton, Wapping, 1941

26 The War Artists’ Advisory Committee collection: An objective record? What is emphasised? - destruction of cultural heritage, predominance of ruined churches and historic buildings: barbarity of the enemy, focal points for national identification - communal shelters: London as a close knit community -Spirit of the Blitz: ‘London can take it’, ‘we are in this together’

27 The War Artists’ Advisory Committee collection: An objective record? What is missing? - few images focusing on the destruction of private homes, virtually no images showing the dead and wounded - private shelters (Anderson shelters in back gardens), people sheltering in their homes, or people leaving London for the night - no indication of the sharp rise in crime rates and juvenile delinquency

28 Publications Andrews, Julian, London’s War. The Shelter Drawings of Henry Moore, Lund Humphries, 2002 Harries, Meirion & Susie, The War Artists. British Official War Art of the Twentieth Century, Michael Joseph, 1983 Foss, Brian, War Paint. Art,War, State and Identity in Britain 1039-1945, Yale University Press, 2007 Mellor, David ed., A Paradise Lost. The Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain 1935-55, Lund Humphries, 1993 Sillars, Stuart, British Romantic Art and the Second World War, Macmillan, 1991 Stansky, Peter & William Abrahams, London’s Burning. Life, Death & Art in the Second World War, Constable & Co, 1994


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