The Great War has not only upset the nations and the families. It has also profoundly influenced the artists, and especially painters, many of whom have experienced the horror of the front. Georges Braque, Fernand Léger, Jean Cocteau, Paul Klee, Egon Schiele… They have lived through the war, often very closely. Sometimes, they come back injured and still wounded from the front. Others will not know peace, like the German expressionist August Mack, disappeared in the Marne September 26, 1914 at the age of 27.
The military experience of each artist is different, of course: some of them fought in the most bloody, others were assigned to the rear guard, some were brave soldiers, others less, some have maintained their mental health, others have lost, but the perception of the First world War as a trauma and tragedy that unites them all.
Georges Braque discovered the war in an infantry regiment with the rank of sergeant. Brave fighter, he was promoted to lieutenant the same year. On may 11, 1915, near Carency, the artist was wounded severely in the head and remains in a coma for two days. Demobilized in April 1916 after a trephination of the skull, he returns to Sorgues in the Vaucluse region, his home before the war. He begins to paint, a year later.
Fernand Léger, “The Party Card”, 1917. Wikipedia
Fernand Léger joined the army in late August 1914. After you have been injured, the artist receives two short leaves in July 1915, and then at the beginning of 1916. It takes full advantage of this time to run his painting The Soldier with the pipe . Despite its efforts to enter into a division far away from the front line, the artist is returned to Verdun as a stretcher-bearer. The conflict inspired him to make a significant amount of works, sketches, drawings and paintings. It is on the front, also, that it strengthens the conviction of a social function of the item game of cards , where we see three soldiers in uniform, is carried out during this period.
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to be Unfit for military service, but carried by his patriotism, Jean Cocteau, joined the army voluntarily as an ambulance. Accused of being too close to the soldiers of a regiment colonial, according to an american researcher Kim Humphreville, the artist is expelled from the front current-1915. A few years later, this episode will be used to Cocteau’s inspiration for the little poem erotic Battery .
Giorgio de Chirico, “Portrait premonition of Guillaume Apollinaire”, 1914. Wikipedia
Shortly after the start of the war, Giorgio de Chirico returned to Paris in Italy. In may 1915, de Chirico enlisted in the Italian army. Quickly declared unfit for military service, it is assigned to the psychiatric hospital in Ferrara.
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In 1914 – 1915, Kasimir Malevich is engaged in the creation of the first paintings supremacist, including the great Quadrangle . The artist was enlisted in the army during the summer of 1916. He spent his service near Smolensk as a clerk in the service of the supply of the Western front Russian.
Shortly before the outbreak of the war, Marc Chagall left Paris to go to an exhibition in Berlin, and then to Vitebsk for the wedding of his sister. During the war, Chagall served in the central military Commission of the industry in St. Petersburg, responsible for supply of the army.
“The 1st of August 1914 Max Ernst died he was resurrected on the 11 November 1918”
based in Paris since 1909, Ossip Zadkine, enlisted in the French foreign Legion in 1914. In may 1916, he was transferred to the medical unit of the Russian army French. At the end of the same year, he was poisoned during a gas attack and goes to the hospital to Épernay. Based on his experience of the war, Zadkine created in 1918 a series of drawings, and an album of 20 engravings, “military”.
In 1914, Max Ernst was mobilized a few weeks after his graduation from the university of Berne, switzerland, while becoming a cartographer on the staff of the Western front German. The war was so marked that many years later, he wrote in his autobiography: “on The 1st of August 1914 Max Ernst died he was resurrected on the 11 November 1918.”
drafted into the German army immediately after his graduation from the École supérieure des beaux-arts in Dresden in 1914, Otto Dix combat at the battle of the Somme, and then on the eastern front. For his bravery as a machine gunner, he was decorated by the iron Cross. His series of engravings, Der Krieg (1924), depicting scenes from the war by borrowing from Dürer, Goya and Munch, is regarded as one of the statements anti-militarist of the most eloquent in the history of european art.
Egon Schiele, “a Prisoner of war Russian”, 1916. Wikipedia
Egon Schiele joined the austrian army in 1915. After having followed a training in Bohemia, the painter becomes the guardian of a convoy of Russian prisoners of war, who was leaving Vienna to Gänserndorf. In 1916, the artist was appointed a clerk in a concentration camp for prisoners of high rank. Having escaped from the sending to the front, Schiele died of the Spanish flu before the end of the war, in October 1918.
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Oscar Kokoschka, mobilized in 1914, won the theatre of war in the middle of the summer of 1915. A few weeks later, near Volodymyr-Volynsk, he is seriously wounded. After having been treated in the military hospital of Brno, Kokoschka was appointed “artist, military”, and took part in several exhibitions of propaganda throughout the country. In the summer of 1916, the artist is demilitarised for the cause of psychological burnout and takes the post of professor at the Academy of fine arts Vienna.
Paul Klee, “With the egg”, 1917. Wikipedia
Paul Klee begins his military service in the winter of 1916 in the infantry in Landshut north of Munich. A few months later, he was assigned to the military airfield at Schleißheim, and then is transferred in a military factory where the aircraft are repaired. It will be there until the end of the war. For Paul Klee, who was not directly involved in the fighting, the period 1916-1918 was one of the most successful.