The Civil War in Art: Teaching and Learning through Chicago Collections from the Terra Foundation for American Art is designed for teachers and students to learn about the Civil War and connect to the issues, events, and people of the era through works of art. Included is an image gallery, classroom projects, a glossary, and more...
The focus of my exhibition is the impact of the war on American art, rather than documenting the war in art. Landscape and Genre painting in the North were profoundly changed by the war; those changes are not as apparent in art made by most southern artists at this time. Ironically the vastly different conditions North and South is one of the main reasons you see so little of the South’s visual culture here. Their strongest response to the war would come decades later, outside the parameters of this exhibition. I do talk about this painting, and these issues, in the Introduction of the book that accompanies this exhibition, to help put all of this into perspective.
World War I very largely confirmed the end of the glorification of war in art, which had been in decline since the end of the previous century. In general, and despite the establishment of large schemes employing official , the most striking art depicting the war is that emphasizing its horror. Official war artists were appointed by governments for information or propaganda purposes and to record events on the battlefield; but many artists fought as normal soldiers and recorded their experiences at the time and later, including the Germans and , who had both fought on the Western Front, and continued to depict the subject for the rest of their careers. Dix's (1923), showing the dismembered bodies of the dead after an assault, caused a scandal, and was first displayed behind a curtain, before causing the dismissal of the museum director who had planned to buy it. Later, after exhibiting it in their 1937 travelling exhibition of "", the government burnt it. He produced a set of fifty prints in 1924 on ("The War"). The English artist began to make drawings of the war while fighting on the Western Front in the . After recovering from a wound he was recruited as an official war artist and produced many of the most memorable images from the British side of both World Wars. After the war, the huge demand for caused a boom for sculptors, covered below, and makers of .
Organizations contributing art and content to The Civil War in Art include the , , , , , , and Terra Foundation for American Art. Historian Margaret Storey and art historian Mark Pohlad, both faculty members at DePaul University, served as consultants and writers.