York Art Gallery

25 March – 4 September 2016

Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War was the largest exhibition of First World War art for nearly 100 years.

York Art Gallery was the only venue outside London to display this collection of more than 60 artworks produced during the war and in its immediate aftermath. Many of the works were by artists who themselves served on the front line and have helped to define how we understand the conflict.

Working either privately or as official war artists, they wanted to give a true sense of the horror, human sacrifice and tragic consequences of ‘total war’.

They reflected this in their fragmented depictions of soldiers, trenches, artillery, and in images of a torn and violated landscape. Modern artistic movements stressed the mechanised nature of the war and the new destruction this brought.

These artists searched for reason and meaning in the conflict, finding ways to capture and commemorate the events of the First World War both at home and on the front lines and helped to form a collective memory that remains with us a century later.

The exhibition featured monumental paintings by Paul Nash, Wyndham Lewis, Stanley Spencer and William Roberts, commissioned for the proposed Hall of Remembrance, and also includes arresting works by CRW Nevinson, William Orpen, Anna Airy, Dorothy Coke and Jacob Epstein.

The exhibition originated at the Imperial War Museums for the First World War Centenary and was first shown at IWM London. It was specially reworked in partnership with York Art Gallery and featured key works from York’s own collections.