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Conference Papers
Publications : Chapters in Books

Paul Gough
'‘A concentrated utterance of total war’ - Paul Nash, CWR Nevinson and the challenge of representation in the Great War’'

in Joanna Bourke (ed.) War and Art: A Visual History of Modern Conflict, Reaktion Books, November 2017, pp. 270-282. ISBN-10: 1780238460

Opening section:

The British government was slow to commission artists in the First World War. French and German artists had been recording the battlefronts long before the Scottish draughtsman Muirhead Bone was appointed the first official British war artist in mid-1916. 1 Further painters and printmakers were eventually commissioned by the Department of Information, intending to use their work as little more than pictorial propaganda. Drawn from the art establishment and the royal academies, none of these artists had seen active service, and their imagery was indebted to an honourable (but outmoded) tradition of battle art or reportage.

Within a year, a second wave of younger artists, most them serving with the armed forces, had been recruited in an ambitious and comprehensive programme of arts patronage. Before the war many of these painters, printmakers and sculptors had been associated with Wyndham Lewis, self-appointed ringmaster of a brilliant clique of young Modernists who readily embraced the geometric dynamism of Cubism and Futurism. From their workshop, the Rebel Art Centre in central London, they contrived a powerful visual style, which the Imagist poet Ezra Pound dubbed ‘Vorticism’, a loud and jagged, irreverent aesthetic that was in lockstep with the new machine age…