I trailed Joanna Bourke‘s new edited collection, War and Art: a visual history of modern conflict (Reaktion Books/University of Chicago Press) in an earlier post. You can now download the introduction here, and read an edited version (‘Paintings, protest and propaganda’) via CNN here.
War is the most destructive activity known to humanity. Its purpose is to use violence – plunder, forced migration, wounding, starvation and slaughter – to compel opponents to submit and surrender. Looking closely at military violence can itself be painful: along with Goya, we may simply exclaim, ‘This is is too much!’
Throughout history, though, the practice and representation of war have been intertwined: the ‘art of war’ refers both to the strategic aspects of military operations and to its depiction in artistic imaginaries.