Originally PUBLISHED ON NOV 2, 2014
Neil Harris, Preston and Sterling Morton Professor Emeritus of History and Art History, and Teri Edelstein, president of Teri J. Edelstein Museum Associates, have cocurated En Guerre: French Illustrators and World War I in the Special Collections Research Center Exhibition Gallery at the University of Chicago Library (October 2014–January 2, 2015). The exhibit is free and open to the public.
The exhibit gathers illustrations, children's books, and fashion magazines to convey the response of French artists to the Great War. Guided by a strong tradition of satire and humor, French illustrators bolstered morale, aroused indignation, ridiculed the enemy, glorified soldiers, and satisfied the need for diversion during the four long years of war and invasion. The exhibit is filled with bold colors, fine lines, and compelling compositions that often recall the poster art of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.
The curators drew upon the strong archival holdings of Special Collections, such as La Baïonnette, a satrical review generated by the war and employing many notable illustrators, private collections, and materials donated to Special Collections by Harris and Edelstein. The University of Chicago has published the exhibit catalogue, and the French government included the exhibit in the Centenaire, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of World War I.
Special Collections is a rich resource for historians. Classes are held in its study rooms, faculty members and students rely on its archive for their scholarship, and historians educate the public with exhibits such as En Guerre. Recently, Chris Dingwall, PhD candidate, curated Race and the Design of American Life: African Americans in Twentieth-Century Commercial Art (October 2013–January 2014) and Seonaid Vailant, PhD'14, cocurated Researching Mexico: University of Chicago Field Explorations in Mexico, 1896–2014. (September 18–21, 2014)
By Joanne M. Berens, MFA'93, email@example.com