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Many wars in the past have had an influence on art, whether artists created different art, art was destroyed, or people saw art in another light. The influence of human conflict in art was separated by anarchists and revolutionists. Whether particular artists chose to paint images of the horror and struggle of the war(s) or positively vibrant propaganda, everyone was heavily influenced by war.
Francisco Jose de Goya (1746-1828) is regarded as the most important Spanish artist of the 18-19th century.
He was an artist that rose during the late 1700’s, giving more credibility to the art community. Goya created paintings such as Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga and Condesa de Altamira and Her Daughter to highlight and romanticize the symbolism of Spain’s military struggle with France. The Spanish war with France caused a significant change in art history, as darker tones were used due to the depressed people. Many travesties were depicted in art, and the style of Rembrandt was created.
Paintings from the 1820’s were notoriously sinister and contained horrifying scenes.
Art in World War 1 caused a pandemonium of modernism. There was a lot of controversy, and people wanted to sympathize with soldiers in film, visual art, music, and even television. Modernism began before World War 1, but was not a vastly recognized style until 1914. One particular artist that was heavily influenced by The Great War is named max Beckmann, born in 1884. Beckmann was a corpsman volunteer and soldier, causing his style to change in Expressionism as he depicted the pain and violence that occurred in the war.
On particular painting, The Small Operation (1915), was a powerful expression of Beckmann’s suffering. His paintings were removed from galleries by the Nazis because of how intense his work was. After the war, Beckmann’s art was completely different, as it encapsulated a great amount of horror and pain. Another artist that was affected by World War 1 is Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Kirchner was a German painter and printmaker with a rejection to modern German traditions while the Germans attempted to conquer other countries. Similar to Beckmann, Kirchner became deeply depressed due to the suffering that his country caused.
During World War 2, propaganda was very popular, particularly by Germans, to galvanize public support and inspire certain communities to act in other ways. Art of black people accentuated the features in their face to humiliate black culture. Jewish people were drawn similarly, and many people during World War 2 began to create art that depicted times of the Holocaust. Among that, books were created such as Night by Elie Wiesel. Films about World War 2 and the holocaust were created in order to show how horrifying and torturous the Holocaust was, such as in the iconic film, Schindler’s List produced and directed by Steven Spielberg. During the 1940’s, persuading the American public was an industry.
Soviet Social Realism greatly differed from Expressionist Art by ‘degenerate’artists such as Beckmann. Soviet art represented realistic and accurate depictions of life and rejected creativity. Diego Rivera was a legendary artist from Mexico and, similar to Soviet Social Realism, preferred realistic and modern social scenes. During the Cold War, Thomas Hart Benton created controversial artworks regarding his opposition to the KKK and Fascism.
The Cold War lasted from 1945 to 1970. Artists created propaganda and cartoons to show civilians how the war was affecting culture, the economy, and safety. Some artists dedicated their work to instill peace during the very rough time, and others tried to display political styles to explore abstract and architecture. The Cold War was reflected in art such as music, movies, and books, such as Alas, babylon by Pat Frank or Arc Light by Eric L. Harry.
All of the artists described were very moved by historical wartimes. Although some artists preferred to publicize their personal feelings through art, others’ gave a less biased, and more realistic depiction of life during certain wars. Many wars in the past have had an influence on art, whether artists created different art, art was destroyed, or people saw art in another light.
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