The art of war: the First World War in paintings, photographs, posters and cartoons

By 1916 Britain, Australia and Canada had each established official war art programmes to document their country’s activities in the First World War and to use for propaganda purposes. Muirhead Bone was appointed Britain’s first official war artist in May of that year in an unprecedented act of government sponsorship for the arts. New Zealand lagged behind its allies on this issue because its wartime government considered war art unnecessary and expensive, but in April 1918 Nugent Welch was taken on as New Zealand’s divisional war artist.

Art:
Syndetics book coverArt from the First World War.
“Throughout World War I, the British government employed a diverse group of artists to produce a rich visual record of wartime events. But the art from this important collection often far exceeds this objective, giving voice to both the artist and the soldiers who are depicted. Art from the First World War contains more than fifty images chosen from among the Imperial War Museum’s impressive collection of works by war artists. Art from the First World War features some of the most well-known British artists of the twentieth century, from the brothers John and Paul Nash to William Orpen, Stanley Spencer, and John Singer Sargent, whose Gassed shows a line of wounded soldiers blinded by a mustard gas attack. On the occasion of the centenary, the Imperial War Museum is bringing this book out in a new edition.” (Syndetics summary)

Portraits:
Historically portraits of military leaders were more common then the portraits of the ordinary serviceman. The depictions of other aspects of war such as the suffering of casualties and civilians has taken much longer to develop.

Syndetics book coverThe Great War in portraits / Paul Moorhouse ; with an essay by Sebastian Faulks.
“In viewing the Great War through the portraits of those involved, Paul Moorhouse looks at the bitter-sweet nature of a conflict in which valour and selfless endeavour were qualified by disaster and suffering, and examines the notion of identity – how various individuals associated with the war were represented and perceived.” (Syndetics)

Women artists:
There were no officially commissioned women war artists in the First World War. Women artists were excluded from the front line – the fields of domesticity and social and industrial subjects were considered to be their metier. However women served as nurses, nurse aides and ambulance drivers. Many of them were accomplished informal artists and were able to record their experiences in several mediums.

 

photo 2photo 1
Left: ‘A Grenadier Guardsman’ by William Orpen, 1917. Right: ‘A bus conductress’ by Victoria Monkhouse, 1919.

Syndetics book coverBeyond the battlefield : women artists of the two World Wars
“World Wars I and II changed the globe on a scale never seen before or since, and from these terrible conflicts came an abundance of photographs, drawings, and other artworks attempting to make sense of the turbulent era. In this generously illustrated book, Catherine Speck provides a fascinating account of women artists during wartime in America, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and their visual responses to war, both at the front lines and on the home front. In addition to following high-profile artists such as American photographer Lee Miller, Speck recounts the experiences of nurses, voluntary aides, and ambulance drivers who found the time to create astonishing artworks in the midst of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Posters:
Posters were recognised as a powerful recruiting tool with simple slogans and strong graphic imagery designed to appeal to the working class who fuelled so much of the machinery of war. They were also used to stir up patriotic feeling, influence women to send their menfolk to the front and to take up positions in service, farms and factories. They were also used to justify the war, raise money, procure resources and to promote good standards of behaviour.

Syndetics book coverBritish posters of the First World War
“During the First World War the authorities emulated the simple slogans and strong graphic imagery of advertising posters to create a form of mass communication that was easily and instantly understood by the British public. They were aimed at the mostly illiterate working class who did more than their share to feed the machinery of war. This book looks at the art of these posters and explores the themes that emerged throughout the course of the conflict.” (Syndetics)

Photography:
Photography in the First World War was made possible by earlier developments in chemistry and in the manufacture of glass lenses, established as a practical process from the 1850s onwards.The ability of photographers to document events was limited to what they could literally see at a certain time, while the quality of their work was hampered by the limited manoeuverability of their equipment. War artists had much greater flexibility as documenters of war, particularly in the difficult conditions of the trenches.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in colour : the definitive illustrated history with over 200 remarkable full colour photographs
“Up to now, World War I has only been seen in black and white. At the time, it was the only way pictures from the front and scenes recreated for the camera could be filmed. Now, for the first time, rare archive footage in black and white from worldwide sources, including Russia, Germany, France, Italy, the USA and the Imperial War Museum, London, has been recast into colour with the greatest care and attention to detail. The results are breathtaking, bringing a remarkable immediacy and poignancy to the war which consumed the lives of 10 million soldiers and civilians.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverImages of war : World War One : a photographic record of New Zealanders at war 1914-1918
“In this photographic collection from the archives of the Waiouru Army Museum, renowned military historian Glyn Harper has selected and annotated the story of Kiwis at the front during the First World War.” (Syndetics)

Cartoons:
For many confronted with the effects or aftermath of the war’s violence, photos were too graphic for daily consumption. Caricatures and cartoons served as a release valve—allowing citizens to make fun of politicians, or the enemy, to offset the dire realities of the day. The period was a high point for illustrated magazines, and cartoons were contemporary commentaries.

Syndetics book coverWorld War I in cartoons
“Using images from a wide variety of international wartime magazines, newspapers, books, postcards, posters and prints, Mark Bryant tells the history of World War I from both sides of the conflict in an immediate and refreshing manner that brings history alive. The book contains more than 300 cartoons and caricatures, in colour and black and white, many of which are published here in book form for the first time. Artists featured include such famous names as Bruce Bairnsfather, H.M.Bateman, F.H.Townshend, Alfred Leete, E.J. Sullivan, Lucien Metivet and Louis Raemaekers, with drawings from the Bystander, London Opinion, Daily Graphic, Punch, Le Rire, Simplicissimus and Kladderadatsch amongst many others.” (Syndetics)

Art and medicine:
Drawings, portraits and photographs were used to help the four pioneering plastic surgeons of the two world wars to reconstruct the faces of disfigured servicemen and civilians.

Syndetics book coverReconstructing faces : the art and wartime surgery of Gillies, Pickerill, McIndoe & Mowlem
“The two world wars played an important role in the evolution of plastic and maxillofacial surgery in the first half of the 20th century. This book is about four of the key figures involved. Sir Harold Gillies and Sir Archibald McIndoe were born in Dunedin; McIndoe and Rainsford Mowlem studied medicine at the University of Otago Medical School, and Henry Pickerill was foundation Dean of the University of Otago Dental School.” (Syndetics)

How the First World War shaped the future of Western art:
The First World War utterly changed the way artists looked at the world. Throughout Western art, the grim realities of industrial warfare led to a backlash against the propaganda and grandiose nationalism that had sparked the conflagration. Cynicism toward the ruling classes and disgust with war planners and profiteers led to demands for art forms that were honest and direct, less embroidered with rhetoric and euphemism.

Syndetics book coverEsprit de corps : the art of the Parisian avant-garde and the First World War, 1914-1925
“In analyzing the changes in modern art between the outbreak of World War I and the Paris Exposition des Arts Dcoratifs of 1925, Kenneth Silver shows that the Parisian avant-garde was deeply involved in French society and its dominant values and relationships. He radically reinterprets masterpieces of modern art, from Matisse and Picasso to Léger and Le Corbusier, demonstrating how their creators all refer, consciously or not, to the Great War and its aftermath.” (Syndetics)

So you love Downton Abbey…

….then you may enjoy something from the following list of fiction titles, all similar to Downton Abbey. With wealthy aristocrats, servants for every task, intrigue, corruption, romance, political and historical plot influences, all set in very grand and not-so-grand stately homes. There is bound to be a novel or two here that will help you fill the time between each episode, and new series of Downton Abbey.

BYATT, A. S. The Children’s book
COLGATE, Isabel The shooting party
FARRELL, J. G. Troubles
FOLLETT, Ken Fall of giants
FORD, Maddox Ford Parade’s end
FORESTER, E. M. Howard’s end
GALSWORTHY, John The Forsyte saga
GOODWIN, Daisy The American Heiress
GREEN, Henry Loving
HARRIS, Jane The observations
HARTLEY, L. P. The go-between
HOWARD, Elizabeth Jane The Gazalet chronicles
ISHIGURO, Kazuo The remains of the day
MARSH, Jean Fiennders keepers
MORTON, Kate The house at Riverton
SOLOMONS, Natasha Novel in the viola
VON ARNIM, Elizabeth Elizabeth and her German garden
WATERFIELD, Giles Markham Thorpe
WAUGH, Evelyn Brideshead revisited
WHARTON, Edith The Buccaneers

Need a new tattoo? : Life after the Millenium Trilogy

David Fincher’s remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has spawned a second wave of enthusiasts seeking out Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy in print. Starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Millenium Trilogy follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander through a series of conspiracies, murders and dark familial secrets. If you’ve seen the films but have yet to read the books, it’s well worth diving in. Though you’ll anticipate some twists and turns, you’ll also be rewarded with greater plot detail and a more thorough joining of the dots than is possible within the space of a film.

If you’ve already read the series, you might be wondering where to go next. Featured below is a list of titles that in some way echo the themes, characters and feel of the Millenium Trilogy. Cosy mystery fans and other delicate souls avert your eyes! Several of the authors are quite prolific, so if you find one you like there’ll be more to explore.

Syndetics book coverNemesis / Jo Nesbø ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“In Nemesis, a Norwegian bestseller translated to English, Harry Hole is an alcoholic detective heading straight for trouble. While his girlfriend is away, he reunites with a former lover, Anna, in a one-night stand. The next day, he wakes up alone, and Anna is found dead. The case is ruled a suicide, but Hole doesn’t believe it. While he quietly investigates her death, another case is building that must be solved. A string of bank robberies have left the city ravaged and several people dead, ruthlessly gunned down. The bank robbers are professional, leaving no trace of evidence behind. Hole begins to receive cryptic anonymous e-mails from someone who knows everything, including where he was last night.” (Gale Books & Authors)
Jo Nesbo will be visiting Wellington for the Writers and Readers Week in March 2011.

Syndetics book coverMiss Smilla’s feeling for snow / Peter Hoeg ; translated from the Danish by F. David.
“Smilla Jasperson is an outsider, an exile from the vast white wastes of her birth, an icy, bitter, and intellectual woman. She loves or needs no one, but is touched when a small Greenlander boy in her building, Isaiah, needs her help. When Isaiah dies mysteriously, Smilla is determined to understand why. Despite the official attitude that Isaiah’s death was accidental, she digs for answers–and runs headlong into a vast and frightening conspiracy of which Isaiah was only one casualty.” (Gale Books and Authors)

Syndetics book coverBox 21 / Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström.
“Another best-selling Swedish crime thriller translated for American audiences, this book is the work of TV personality Roslund and former criminal and current youth worker Hellstrom. Their dark and gritty tale revolves around Lithuanian sex slaves Lydia and Alena, vicious and rarely convicted mob enforcer Jochum Lang, and Hilding Oldeus, a desperate heroin junkie. Their stories converge when cranky, old-fashioned police inspector Ewert Grens is assigned to the investigation of Lydia’s horrific murder by her pimp, Lang and Oldeus get out of jail, and Grens resumes his crusade to put Lang away permanently.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverHypothermia / Arnaldur Indridason ; translated by Victoria Cribb.
“Against the backdrop of Reykjavik, Iceland, police detective Erlendur is investigating the apparent suicide of a troubled young woman named Maria. The more Erlendur learns about Maria, however, the more he suspects that she did not take her own life. Rather, Erlendur believes Maria was murdered as the result of an unusually evil scheme. As more details about Maria’s case are revealed, Erlendur examines his own life, the choices he has made, and the misdeeds of his past that remain unresolved. Hypothermia is the sixth book in Arnaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Thriller series, which also includes Arctic Chill and The Draining Lake.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe man from Beijing / Henning Mankell ; translated by Laurie Thompson.
“When 19 people are brutally murdered in Hesjovallen, Sweden, a judge named Birgitta Roslin becomes interested in the case. Birgitta realizes that she is distantly related to a number of the victims, so she travels to the small town to look for answers. Although the local police are unhappy about her investigations, Birgitta finds a diary that gives clues about possible motives for the crime. It seems that the murder victims were descendants of a man who oversaw Chinese workers who helped build the first American transcontinental railroad. The overseer was a cruel man who mistreated the Chinese workers. After Birgitta learns that other people related to the overseer were murdered in the United States, she suspects that the murders were motivated by violence that occurred more than a century earlier.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe black path / Åsa Larsson ; translated by Marlaine Delargy.
“On an early spring night in northern Sweden, the body of a woman is discovered by a fisherman. Police inspector Anna-Maria Mella and her colleague Sven-Erik Stalnacke are called to Tornetrask to investigate. Identifying the body as Inna Wattrang, the head of information for Kallis Mining, Mella soon learns that Wattrang was severely tortured before she was murdered. Wanting to learn more about Kallis Mining before she meets with its owner Mauri Kallis, Mella turns to attorney Rebecka Martinsson for help in sifting through information about the company. Although Martinsson is happy to help Mella with the investigation, she is still recovering herself from a previous case. Investigating both Kallis and Wattrang’s brother, Diddi, Mella soon learns that Kallis Mining’s business dealings may be the cause of Wattrang’s death.” (Gale Books & Authors)
Also available as an eBook

Syndetics book coverThe informationist / Taylor Stevens.
“In The Informationist by Taylor Stevens, a missing-persons case draws Vanessa Michael Munroe back to the treacherous region of Africa she escaped as a teenager. While living with her missionary parents in Cameroon, Vanessa ran off with a shady gun-runner before giving up her risky lifestyle for a job in the States. Working as an informationist in Texas, Vanessa gathers intelligence for prominent clients. When a wealthy businessman, Richard Burbank, needs help locating his missing daughter in Africa, Vanessa agrees to return. Back in Africa, Vanessa meets up with her ex, Francisco Beyard, and confronts the dangers she left behind.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe reversal / by Michael Connelly.
“The Reversal is a mystery novel by Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series. When convicted child killer Jason Jessup is set free after new DNA evidence clears his name, lawyer Mickey Haller is determined to prove that Jessup is indeed guilty. He enlists the help of LAPD Detective Harry Bosch to prove once and for all that Jessup is a cold-blooded killer. Unfortunately, time and evidence are stacked against Bosch and Haller–if they aren’t quick enough, Jessup may claim another victim. Connelly is the bestselling author of The Scarecrow and The Lincoln Lawyer.” (Gale Books and Authors)
Also available as an eBook or downloadable audiobook

For more read-alike suggestions, try Books & Authors, a book recommendation tool the library subscribes to. Just type in the name of a book you’ve enjoyed and it will (in many cases) provide you with a list of similar or related reads. They also have recommended title lists for a variety of genres; award winners; book reviews and a search tool where you can choose plot elements and other features you might enjoy in a novel.

See also our previous post on Stieg Larsson read-alikes

Most new DVDs ever?

Booklists – new fiction, large print, DVDs and music. We have fiction about wanton redheads, the smell of the moon, dolphin people and the single gentleman’s dining club. We have large print books about Pope Benedict XVI, an ice queen and the pride of Lancashire. New DVDs include The standard of perfection – show cats & show cattle, Love of quilting, The best of queer eye, FIFA fever, Dirty Harry, She-devils on wheels, Walk the line, The Beatles down under, Ricky Gervais live and 8 1/2. And more. Much, much more.