Launch of Monica Bohm-Duchen’s new book 'Art and the Second World War'

27 November 2013

11 December at 6pm
43 Gordon Square, London

'Art and the Second World War' is the first book in English to provide a comprehensive and detailed international overview of the complex and often disturbing relationship between war and the fine arts during this crucial period of modern history.

This generously illustrated volume starts by examining the art produced in reaction to the Spanish Civil War (often viewed as 'the first battle of World War II'), and then looks at painting, sculpture, prints, and drawing in each of the major combatant nations, including Japan and China. Breathtaking in scope, this scholarly yet accessible publication places wartime art within its broader cultural, political and military contexts, while never losing sight of the power and significance of the individual image and the individual artist.

Monica Bohm-Duchen’s thought-provoking analysis ranges from iconic paintings such as Picasso’s Guernica to unfamiliar works by little-known artists. She reinstates war art by major artists as an integral part of their oeuvres and examines neglected topics such as the art produced in the Japanese-American and British internment camps, by victims of the Holocaust, and in response to the dropping of the atom bomb in1945. In so doing, Bohm-Duchen addresses a host of fundamental issues, including the relationship between art and propaganda, and between art and atrocity, and the role of gender, religion and censorship, both external and internal.

Art and the Second World War offers an unparalleled comparative perspective that will appeal to anyone interested in art history, military history, or political and cultural studies.


Introduction; Chapter 1: Civil War in Spain 1936-1939: 'The First Battle of World War II'; Chapter 2: Art in the Democracies: Great Britain; Chapter 3: Art in the Democracies: the Commonwealth; Chapter 4: Art in the Democracies:the USA; Chapter 5: 'France, Once the Haven of Exiles': Victim or Collaborator?; Chapter 6: Art under the Dictators: Russia’s Great Patriotic War; Chapter 7: 'Imperfect Totalitarianism': Art and War in Fascist Italy; Chapter 8: Art under the Dictators: Nazi War Art Reassessed; Chapter 9: Art of the Holocaust: Creativity in Extremis; Chapter 10: Bitter Victory: China’s War of Resistance against Japan 1937-1945; Chapter 11: Japan’s Holy War 1931-1945; Chapter 12: Endgame:

About the Author

Monica Bohm-Duchen is an independent writer, lecturer, and curator. Based in London, she has worked for such leading institutions as the Tate, the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts. Her many books include After Auschwitz: Responses to the Holocaust in Contemporary Art. She teaches a course on art and war at Birkbeck, University of London, and at New York University in London.

Refreshments will be served.

Signed copies of the book will be available for sale at a specially reduced price of £35.

For more information, please contact:

Dr Suzannah Biernoff
Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Visual Culture
Department of History of Art
Birkbeck, University of London
43 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PD

+44 (0)20 7631 6137
[email protected]
You can now follow the School of Arts on twitter: @birkbeck_arts


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