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The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA)

World War I and American Art

Type:   Event / Exhibition (temporary)

Location:   The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), 128 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102.

Date:   11 November 2016 - 01 January 2018

World War I and American Art will be the first major exhibition devoted to exploring the ways in which American artists reacted to the First World War. Coinciding with the centenary of America’s involvement in the war, the exhibition is scheduled to run at PAFA from November 04, 2016 to April 9, 2017 before traveling to two other U.S. venues from May 2017 through January 2018. This exhibition will include approximately 115 objects dating from 1913-1938 including painting, sculpture, photography, drawings, prints, film, posters, and ephemera. It will include a broad range of artists who engaged the war and its impact in their work, from well-known figures such as John Singer Sargent and Marsden Hartley to lesser-known figures like Claggett Wilson.

The war’s impact on American art and culture was enormous. Nearly every major American artist of the time produced work that addressed the war. PAFA’s exhibition seeks to revisit this critical moment in American history through the eyes of artists in order to show how they responded to what was an unprecedented global event. Artists had a leading role in chronicling the impact of the war, crafting images that affected public opinion, supporting the U.S. government’s mobilization efforts, and helping to shape the way soldiers were remembered in its wake.

Mirroring the debates on the floor of Congress and in small towns, artists engaged in the looming question of what America’s relationship would be to a global conflict. World War I was controversial in the United States, and artists registered this climate through their work from the home front, on the battlefields, and field hospitals. Americans abroad had to strike a delicate balance between their identification with European culture and allegiances to the United States. World War I marked a shift in many artists’ careers, inspiring critical bodies of work, pointing them towards new ways of working, and in some cases forming the capstone for artists already advanced in age.

The exhibition is co-curated by Dr. Robert Cozzolino, PAFA’s Senior Curator and Curator of Modern Art; Dr. Anne Knutson, an independent scholar and curator; and Dr. David Lubin, the Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University. Together they bring a broad range of viewpoints and deep knowledge to a topic that is complex and has not received the attention that is deserved.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue written by the project curators with additional contributors writing from new perspectives in history and the arts. PAFA is planning a broad range of programming and partnerships in conjunction with the project.

World War I and American Art is made possible in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and from the Henry Luce Foundation. The Presenting Sponsor for this exhibition is the Exelon Foundation. Additional funding provided by grants from the David A. and Helen P. Horn Charitable Trust, and the Wyeth Foundation for American Art.

Dates and locations:
PAFA: 04 November 2016 - 09 April 2017
New York Historical Society: May – September 2017
Frist Center for the Visual Arts: October 2017 – January 2018

Suitable for Family friendly


Registration N/A

Concessions Concessions available


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