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Title: Making it real : methods and materials of British war artists, 1914-1919
Author: Clapperton, Stacey
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 8961
Awarding Body: University of Glasgow
Current Institution: University of Glasgow
Date of Award: 2017
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Undertaken during the centenary of the First World War, this thesis endeavours to understand for the first time how British artists made modern British war art. In particular, it investigates the methods and materials used by war artists and examines the motivations behind these choices. In order to do this, this thesis distils the broad definition of 'war artist' into three categories: Home Front artists, Artist-Soldiers and Official War Artists. These categories acknowledge the different generations and artistic styles involved in the production of modern war art, whilst also taking into consideration the wide range of wartime experiences and the environments in which war art was made, whether in the war-zones or from the safety of artists' studios. In conjunction with investigating how these artists made war art, their working practices are examined in the context of the unique wartime environment. To what extent the war affected the trade and manufacture of artists' materials and how this in turn had an impact on artistic choice is also investigated. Object-based analysis of the artworks and any preparatory studies and sketches are analysed alongside artists' testimonies in order to identify the methods and materials used. This study demonstrates how Home Front artists, who were geographically separated from the war-zones, relied on their imagination and an array of secondary sources including press photographs, eye witness accounts, props and models to create their war art. On the other hand, Artist-Soldiers had the advantage of experiencing the war for themselves but were often restricted from producing art in the midst of active battlegrounds. Their artworks often took the form of small-scale, observational sketches, executed using preparatory mediums such as charcoal, ink and watercolour. However, when official art schemes were devised by Wellington House and the British War Memorials Committee respectively, artists were employed to create war art for specific functions. As a result, the methods and materials used changed depending on whether their art was needed for propagandist or commemorative purposes. The contemporary critical reception of war art during the First World War demonstrated the need for an artist to have personal experience of their subject matter. First-hand experience resulted in authentic and credible pictures of the war. Seemingly, how a piece of war art was made, where it was made, and what type of wartime experience an artist had, were paramount to how those works of art were valued. However, by uncovering the methods and materials used by Britain's modern war artists, this thesis challenges the assumptions and conclusions made by contemporary audiences, whilst considering the implications of describing an artwork or an experience as 'authentic'. Although we can divide the artists who produced war art during the years 1914-1919 into distinct categories and trends emerge within these categories, ultimately no two experiences of the war were the same. As a result of individual artists adapting to their environments and circumstances differently, a variety of methods and materials are identified throughout this thesis.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR ; NC Drawing Design Illustration ; ND Painting ; NE Print media ; NX Arts in general