At the start of the war there were no official attempts to recruit artists or to commission them to paint the conflict. But the Army's insatiable appetite for men ensured that many artists ended up enlisting, and many of them sketched and painted what they saw. By 1917 there was a recognition that what was happening needed officially recording and the War Memorials Committee was established. Official war artists were recruited - both from among those who had served as soldiers and others - although their efforts didn't always meet with official approval. These men and women weren't celebrating an heroic conflict, as art of previous generations might have done. They were recording with brutal honestly the pain and the destruction of the 'war to end wars'.
This remarkable exhibition first opened last year at the Imperial War Museum, London. It is now in York - the only venue other than the IWM - until September is well worth a visit, gathering as it does the largest collection of World War One art for almost 100 years. Catch it if you can!
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