A battery shelled | Wyndham Lewis | 1919

A battery shelled | Wyndham Lewis | 1919

A battery shelled | Wyndham Lewis | 1919

In the year 1912, along with other artists, Lewis found a movement called vorticism. In their publications, the movement would criticize the sentimentalism of the 19th century painting and would emphasize values like violence and energy. But, with the burst of the First World War, the group dissolves and Lewis is recruited as Lieutenant in the British Artillery. His job consisted in reporting, from observation posts, the changes in the enemy’s front. As you would imagine, the job was very dangerous and, many times, the artist himself battles against the Germans.

After the third battle in the Ypres Salient, Belgium; Lewis becomes the Official Artist of War in 1917, both for the Canadian and British governments. For the latter, he paints A battery shelled in 1919.

It is not redundant to clarify that here, the term “battery” refers to its military meaning, it is, a group of pieces that operate together, for instance, one of them is the 6-Inch Howitzer cannon that the artist shot during the battles.

The painting shows us a strange scene, where we can see fences, trenches, bunkers and more constructions associated to war. In the foreground, the see two people quietly leaning. It seems that the man up front is Lewis himself that, aware that the battery is “shelled”, contemplates his surroundings. On the background, we can see the horror of the war expressed through hard and straight lines, acute angles and dull colors (typical characteristics of the abstract compositions by the vorticists). The soldiers we see in there have lost their human form and seem more like robots or machines, metaphor of the human degradation that Lewis witnessed in the battlefield.

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~ by Álvaro Mazzino on February 18, 2011.

2 Responses to “A battery shelled | Wyndham Lewis | 1919”

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