Modern Art, Britain and the Great War:
Witnessing, Testimony and Remembrance

Sue Malvern

Publicaton Date
May 2004
Standard Number
Yale University Press
244 pages

The First World War had a great impact on British modernism and twentieth-century art. This book examines how the British state recruited some of its most controversial artists to produce official art as part of propaganda and how their work gave witnessed testimony to the trauma of a war that later generations would redeem in acts of remembrance.

The principal means by which artists visually recorded their war experiences, says Sue Malvern, were the official employment schemes set up by the government in 1916. Challenging prevailing opinion, she argues that these schemes were surprisingly liberal, giving modern artists unprecedented scope to create new audiences for their art. Official art was not just visual propaganda, but work of compelling quality and value, and the issues it raised extended into the post-war period and beyond.