[by Kelly Austin]
Once again, Literary Arts is partnering with the Portland Art Museum for a Delve Seminar that will showcase art and literature side by side. To mark the one hundred years that have passed between the beginning of the Great War and today, we’ll gather together in the Andrée Stevens Room at the Museum for our discussions of how art and literature represent war, and why form makes a difference. Mary Weaver Chapin, curator of This Is War! Graphic Arts from the Great War, will open the seminar with an exclusive gallery talk for the participants. She’ll guide us in a close examination of how the pieces work on the page and in their historical artistic contexts.
The literary works were chosen specifically to complement these works of art. Since—among the woodcuts, etchings, posters and drawings in the exhibition—the German art is perhaps best known and best represented, we’ll begin our comparison of the graphic arts and literature with a consideration of All Quiet on the Western Front (1929), a novel by German war veteran, Erich Maria Remarque. In our conversations we’ll think through such things as how the posters supporting the war effort influence and persuade, and how, in turn, the novel—and some of the other artwork—begins to unravel the truth claims of propaganda.
Because the exhibition includes important contributions from American, Belgian, English, French, and Swiss artists, we’ll read Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1929) as a representative novel that contends with the international nature of the Great War. These visual and verbal representations will help us to ask questions about the overlapping spheres of military and civilian lives in times of war, and how the deep ties of friends and lovers are forged and tested.
“This is War!” Remarque, Hemingway & More will take place Thursday evenings from 6-8 pm, beginning September 4 and running for 6 weeks. The exhibition showcases works from the Museum’s collection—including many recent acquisitions—as well objects from important local private collections.