Retrospectives

Postcards from the Trenches: Germans and Americans Visualize the Great War

World War I, Otto Schubert postcards courtesy Private Collection, USA
An exhibition of Pepco Edison Gallery, Washington, DC (19.08. - 27.09.2014) and of The Printing Museum, Houston, Texas (23.10.2014 – 14.02.2015), curated by Prof. Marion Deshmukh and Prof. Irene Guenther, presents the artistic treatment of everyday life on the western front as seen through the eyes of ordinary soldiers.

At the front, soldiers received government-approved “field postcards” (Feldpostkarten) to communicate with their loved ones on the home front.
One of those soldiers was the Dresden-based German painter Otto Schubert. From the end of 1914 to mid-1916, when he was severely injured Schubert captured the daily realities and tragedies of the Great War on 80 postcards. Instead of writing on the blank 4” x 6” cards, Schubert conveyed his wartime experiences in exquisitely-rendered drawings and paintings. The sentences he occasionally wrote were relegated to the thinnest of margins, essentially serving as a frame for the image. While a number of other soldier-artists also rendered their frontline experiences in quickly executed images, Schubert’s trench postcards are among the most remarkable.

Soon after the United States entered the war in 1917, the U.S. Commission on Public Information suggested the idea of official war artists. The Army commissioned eight artists as captains in the American Expeditionary Forces to record their impressions of the conflict beginning in March 1918. Subjected to danger just like ordinary soldiers, these eight individuals produced more than five hundred depictions of their experiences on the Western Front.

The exhibitions webside introduces the works of Otto Shubert and conveyes further information on that subject: www.postcardsfromthetrenches.com/postcards
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