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The Aesthetics of LossGerman Women's Art of the First World War$
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Claudia Siebrecht

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656684

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199656684.001.0001

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Introduction War Experience, Visual Narrative, and Identity

Introduction War Experience, Visual Narrative, and Identity

(p.1) Introduction War Experience, Visual Narrative, and Identity
The Aesthetics of Loss

Claudia Siebrecht

Oxford University Press

Women’s artistic testimony produced between 1914 and 1919 bears witness to the major impact the war had on women’s lives and reveals the degree to which extreme events and intense emotions characterized the civilian experience of war. Their visual accounts reflect and express their enthusiasm and disillusionment, hopes, and, importantly, their trauma and bereavement and the pain of their grief. It is this emotional content of women’s art that perhaps most accurately represents their perceived historical truth. The perspectives on women in wartime society offered by German female artists, are, of course, not depictions of reality, but should be viewed as constructs that responded to a public discourse and engaged with cultural codes of conduct and narratives of war. In particular the numerous representations of mourning women stood in conflict with the conventional rhetoric of heroic wartime death and appropriate female mourning.

Keywords:   experience of war, women’s art, modern science, German female artists, wartime society, female mourning

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