During world war one, soldiers as well as anyone involved in the war faced many horrors during battle. Many horrific experiences and emotions they had became the subject for new types of poetry, writing, and even artwork. Artists used their mediums to question the experience as well as emotion. Using new modern art techniques such as cubism and impressionism, artwork was completely changed from its previous forms, reflecting the confusion of the era. Modernism in artwork and literature rejected the older Victorian standards of how art is created, portrayed, and what its meaning should be.
In the period of 1910 to 1930, “Modernism” refers to the large change in both aesthetic, cultural and emotional response shown in the art and writing during the post World War one era. By 1918, as the war ends domination of European foreign forces had concluded, allowing the “American Century” to begin. For people around the world dealing with the traumatic things they had faced, and the collapsing economies; previous values that had fallen, rejecting 19th century optimism instead replacing it with disarray, pessimism, and questioning of their previous values.
Rejecting these “standards” many mpressionistic artists painted outside. Using landscapes, street scenes and everyday fgures. This relates to world war one because this artwork was mainly to stimulate the audience. Hoping to create unstructured, and undetailed views of the world using specific exemplifications of light on objects in their natural states and habitats. In the famous painting by Childe Hassam “The Avenue in the rain” created directly after the end of the war, rows and rows of American flags hang, some appear to be torn and worn down. The people in the painting have no face, and are blurry.
Although you cannot see their emotion the viewer can infer a sense of sadness and mourning not only in one person but throughout the nation. The people are dressed in all black, with black umbrellas walking in groups underneath these flags on a rainy day. It does not merely create and image but also triggers emotion and allows for a clear understanding of the time period. This painting was portraying American people directly after the involvement in the war. Its scene is on Fifth Avenue in New York City, it includes all the flags of the allied forces.
They are supposed to show the armony of all three nations working together for a single cause, but at the same time the painting is translating a different emotion completely. “The Persistence of Memory’ is created by the Spanish painter Salvador Dali. Salvador Dali, painted vast amounts of paintings in different categories of modernism such as cubism, surrealism, and Dadaism. This specific painting is a combination of all three. This painting depicts an infant like head on the body of a large fish. Lying on the dessert ground, washed ashore and now decaying and rotting after a lost battle for life and gasping for air.
This is much like the soldiers in battle, many fighting for their life, only to be left dead and lifeless on the battle field. The melting watches can suggest the irrelevance of the time during war. Especially the drooping clock on the figure. Furthermore, when a person is not conscious, or when a person dies, that time does not persist, only the memories of them do. This is similar to the memories of solders interesting light techniques, these unusual and unrealistic light patterns create a feeling of cubism in the painting.
This is mainly because the harsh lighting between uper light and super dark creates a high contrast in the objects. Therefore, the objects become sharper edged and slightly more three-dimensional. This is to highlight the most important details such as the clocks and the fgure. World war one dramatically affected peoples lives, but it also changed the way they thought and the way they wrote. After the war literature was largely changed from short simplistic stories and poems to a much more realistic approach to life. One example of the change is shown in a famous poem written by Wilfred Owen, called “Anthem of
Doomed Youth”. The title of this poem is ironic because an anthem is usually a Joyful celebratory song, but when paired with “doomed youth” morphs into a completely new meaning, full of sorrow for the young people fghting with no hope. He Uses “monstrous anger of guns”, “passing bells” and “riffles rapid rattle” to show that as soldiers die this is the only “anthem”, there are no funerals honoring them, Just ongoing war. Owen uses Two different images, In the first stanza he describes the scene of war and the death of soldiers in this array of bombs, and guns.
In the econd stanza he connects with the feeling and confusion of those not fighting such as the families and friends of the soldiers. This idea of family ponders on their ideas, as families were torn apart many of them questioned their beliefs on life, this added to the confusion of the time. This poem connects with the reader creating the terrible deaths and the emotion connected with every lost soldier. Another important piece of writing from this time period is “All quiet on the Western Front” by Erich Maria Remarque. This book goes far deeper into the meaning of life and death then any before it.
Written from the perspective of a soldier in the battle we have insight of their views. Writing shifts from casual stories and experiences toa book so full of confusion, about the soldiers place in the world after battle and their questioning on how to move on with life after all the evils of war that they have faced. A new idea posed is also how they try not to lose themselves in the evils in humanity, one of the major concepts of this book and most writing of the era. Although world war one had a great loss of life, and emotion, these experiences and new ideas translated into art and writing that was new to the era.