War Art is Worth a Thousand Histories

Welcome to the exhibit “War Art is Worth a Thousand Histories”  

This exhibit reinterprets the classic saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” to display war art as being worth a thousand histories. Woven into each of the paintings featured in this exhibit are histories pertaining to the artists that created them, the individuals and materials depicted, the days and moments leading up to the event depicted, and the lifelong memories of war preserved years and decades afterwards.

This exhibit explores an important element of Canadian material history through a digital medium. Canadian World War I Art was created to preserve the Great War in Canadian memory and eternally honour those who served to protect our nation. This Omeka exhibit features 12 out of 1000 pieces of war art created as a result of the Canadian War Memorials Fund. 

Canada was the first allied country to establish a commission for war art at the beginning of WWI. As a result, talented Canadian artists dedicated their life's work to depicting the Canadian experience during WWI both on the battlefront and the homefront. This exhibit gathers a sample of Canada’s greatest WWI artworks and details the historical significance of each piece. Viewers can explore a variety of war art depicting both men and women on the Western Front and the Home Front.

The Western Front: 

In the first section, viewers can explore art depicting war at sea, war on the land, war in the air, and war from the perspective of horses. Within each of these categories, viewers will be presented with two unique pieces which were specifically chosen to compare and contrast the artistic and personal historical qualities of each artist as well as the historical significance embedded in each piece itself. 

Women at War:

This section intends to highlight the important and difficult roles that women played both on the home front and the battle front. Three paintings are featured in this section. Each painting pays tribute to either a female artist and/or women depicted in the paintings themselves. Female war artists faced much adversity during the early 20th century. Women breaking into the art industry faced many obstacles and were expected to paint only certain themes that conformed to societal standards. This section will demonstrate the ways in which brave female artists broke these barriers and found success.   

Ultimately, this exhibit will leave viewers with an enriched view and understanding of the historical significance of material history in the form of WWI Art.