Visualizing War With Art - Alan Stinar

For as long as its been since man first took arms against each other, there have been representations of their experiences and feelings about war through art. My gallery gives a few examples of what people decided to paint or photograph from those experiences. Try to see their point-of-view in each one.

War 1939-1945. The Liberation of Paris. Interior of the Grand Palais nave after the August fire, the result of combat. Paris, November 1944., © LAPI / Roger-Viollet, 1944-11, Original Source: Roger-Viollet website
This photograph depicts the inside of the Grand Palais, a very famous museum and historical site in Paris, France. Within this photo is the beautiful lines of the Grand Palais that even from this point-of-view give the sense of depth with the glass structured ceiling. Also, take notice to the lack of color. Although color film was hard to get at the time, it adds to the image, the sense of it being from the past. The foreground shows either military or police forces using this space as a staging area, and the background shows the possible beginning of reconstruction and clean-up. Overall this photograph documents how the Grand Palais looked during a time of so much destruction and reminds those who see it today how things once were in a time not long ago.
Portrait of the World War II Veteran Tkachev S.P., Alexey Tkachev, 2004 - 2004, From the collection of: The Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA)
This painting depicts a Veteran of World War II, now a much elder man who is relaxing by the window. Clearly the emphasis in this painting is the man sitting by the window. The majority of the photograph isn't cluttered with other objects. Look at the colors here. It's winter outside with patches of snow, you can also see the reflected brightness on the mans face. A Russian Veteran of WWII would be a very lucky man to become elderly because the Russian military lost roughly 8.7 million troops during that war.
Prisoners of War, Ladislav Mednyánszky, 1914 - 1918, From the collection of: Slovak National Gallery
This painting during World War One depicts prisoners of war standing before a guard it what may be rain or inclement weather. There is emphasis on the guard more than the POWs because not only is his blueish grey color different than the colors used for the prisoners, but because how the prisoners are more blurred than he is. Maybe this is to show their unity in captivity, and the guards authority over them. Notice the texture of the diagonal lines? Of course this could also be implied movement of the prisoners moving around as they're being guarded.
War N Buff it, Karin Lindberg Freda, War N Buff it, From the collection of: Random Act Projects
This piece of American graffiti comes from activist and artist who goes by the moniker "War N Buff it". It shows his discontent towards a popular cliche phrase "support the troops" and how society has abandoned the ones who live on the street. Although it's only typographic graffiti, there is a form of expressionism art here. He uses contrast to make his message stand out with the white paint on dark colored bricks. His large question mark shows emphasis on the question within the message itself.
Centurion tank, Ivor Hele, 1953, From the collection of: Australian War Memorial
This is a Centurion tank that is stuck in the terrain with a soldier on top, manning the turret. There is a lot going on in this painting. The shapes and analogous colors of this piece present that the tank is climbing over quite a bit of brush and trees. However, at closer look we see that the shapes and colors were used to deceive our eyes, because they're actually people trying to get the tank unstuck or they're injured. The texture in the painting helps with the first glance illusion of the tank climbing over logs and terrain, yet is instead soldiers. This created a complex situation for the viewer to discover the rest of the details.
A Shell Forge at a National Projectile Factory, Hackney Marshes, London, 1918, Airy, Anna, 1918, From the collection of: Imperial War Museums
This painting depicts workers at a National Projectile factory. Hot shells just out of the forge are being laid on the ground to cool. The colors used here are very believeable for being inside an industrial factory where the contrast is already more towards the dark end. The darker contrasting colors of the room give it that industrial mood, yet there is the remarkable hot orange color of the newly forged shell casings. During the first world war, every man woman and child was called upon to support the war efforts. Labor laws during this time were vastly different than today and the artist may have painted this piece to show how we often see the effects of war on the battlefield, but rarely see how it affects the homefront as well.
The letter, He Kongde, 1956, From the collection of: Huaren Contemporary Art Museum
This painting shows four soldiers sitting near a vantage point or window. Three of them appear to be relaxed while one keeps an eye out for trouble. One of them men reads a letter and his expression appears to be content with its writings. If this is a cave like encampment, the colors are believable with how they blend together. Those who've spent time covered in mud and dirt know how it coats everything with muddy browns and reds of the Earth. The texture here gives the impression they're coated in mud or dirt, the strokes and shapes of the colors imitate how the mud coats a persons body.
American Soldier in Iraq, Kim, Seong Ryong, 2003, From the collection of: Korean Art Museum Association
This piece of art depicts the mind of someone who feels like they're part soldier, part machine, a weapon who's lost sense of being human. It may seem deranged, but war isn't something you just walk away with your sanity intact. Look that shape that makes up the leg on the right side. It's shapes and lines defer than that of other organic parts of the body, along with its silver color which implies it's part machine or a prosthetic. The organic shapes of the face and legs assist with texture of a skinned animal, showing all its muscles and ligaments. Look at the emphasis on this creature, but also notice how it stands in darkness. Could this mean the artist feels alone and this creature is a representation of his thoughts?
A Wounded Soldier and His Comrade, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, 1916, From the collection of: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
This interesting piece of sketched art is everything that its title presents. A wounded soldier and his comrade. Displayed is a wounded man with a white bandage wrapped around his head while his comrade-in-arms sits next to him possibly listening to a conversation. The lack of color saturation in this photo brings emphasis to the wounded mans white bandage. Through this we first see the wounded man and then his comrade. This entire sketch is lines that are partially sporadic, except where they create the right shapes which outline the subjects shoulders, head, and faces.
Dead German Soldier, Jean-Louis Forain, c. 1914/1919, From the collection of: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
This interesting painting of a dead German soldier lying on the ground while two other soldiers talk uses several techniques. First the lack of color for half the painting. The two men are just sketches, yet the dead German has color and far more detail. This brings emphasis on the dead man, who has bled out possibly because of the bayonet laying in front of him. The second thing is the use of shapes between the left and right half of the painting. The left side has more detail because of the shapes used to paint the colors of his body, his head, even the hint of blood on the ground beneath him.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.