AN unusual exhibition of Arthur Streeton’s paintings and sketches of World War I has recently opened at the National Gallery of Australia.
Streeton was appointed as an official war artist in 1918, and was dispatched to the Western Front. His works focused on modern machines in the “Great War”, which, the gallery says: “Rode on the back of technology, with advancements in shelling, machine guns and aircraft.”
“Whilst one of our most valued Australian Impressionists, Arthur Streeton is also one of the nation’s foremost war artists,” says NGA director Gerard Vaughan.
“His contribution in capturing the historical significance of Australian troops in France was unequalled. Streeton’s unique perspective, drawn from his Impressionist roots, provides an exhibition that is powerful, engaging and often surprising.”
This exhibition depicts the dramatic simplicity of the gaping townscapes and dislocated remnants of the battlefield and temporary field hospitals.
Curator of the show, Dr Anna Gray, says: “He was at the forefront, being one of the few war artists who chose to depict the aftermath of the damage, eschewing scenes of action for the implication of violence.”
Many of the watercolours, sketches and oil paintings on show are on loan from the Australian War Memorial, and show not only war itself but also the haunting after-effects.
“Arthur Streeton: The Art of War”, NGA, continues until April 29.