Imperial War Museum London re-launches in July with two new art exhibitions

By Richard Moss | 22 June 2014

July's eagerly awaited opening of Imperial War Museum London for the Centenary of the First World War will include two major exhibitions showcasing its historic and contemporary art collections

a painting of a landscape of shattered trees, mud and bomb craters
Paul Nash, We are making a new world, 1918© IWM
When IWM London opens its doors to the public on July 19 it will be showcasing its redisplayed First World War collection, new Atrium, café and shop and also one of the best British art collections in the UK.

Vying for attention with the weapons, machines and countless fascinating personal objects and stories will be a brace of art exhibition that mine an excellent First World War collection of paintings and reveal the results of a new photography project from Afghanistan.

Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War
promises “the largest exhibition of British First World War art for almost 100 years” with over 120 artworks including iconic images by Paul Nash, Percy Wyndham Lewis, CRW Nevinson, Stanley Spencer and William Orpen.

Assessing both the immediate impact and legacy of British art of the First World War, the exhibition will also feature some lesser known names including Anna Airy, George Clausen and Gilbert Rogers and show how artists of all ages, traditions and backgrounds strived to represent the unprecedented, epoch-defining events of the First World War.

With the IWM promising a “new interpretation of British First World War art”, the exhibition will place the artwork firmly within the context of the times, taking into account critical and popular responses and incorporating contemporary artistic debates.

The contemporary strand is represented by IWM Contemporary: Mark Neville, a 2010 project which saw the IWM’s Art Commissions Committee and arts organisation firstsite Colchester, send the photographer to Afghanistan for two months with 16 Air Assault Brigade in Helmand Province.

Neville was taken out on patrol to photograph Afghan civilians and British soldiers using a variety of techniques including slow motion filming and the use of a series of backdrops made with resonant images of past wars.

The results are a powerful and poetic response to the Afghanistan war and a reminder of the museum’s adventurous approach to commissioning new art.

  • IWM London reveals its new First World War Galleries and new Atrium with large object displays on July 19 2014 to mark the Centenary of the First World War.

Click below to launch a gallery of images from the IWM's First World War collection.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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