War and Art: A Visual History of Modern Conflict

by Joanna Bourke

Reaktion Books

This sumptuously illustrated volume, edited by eminent war historian Joanna Bourke, offers a comprehensive visual, cultural and historical account of the ways in which armed conflict has been represented in art. Covering the last two centuries, the book shows how the artistic portrayal of war changed, from a celebration of heroic exploits to a more modern, truthful depiction of warfare and its consequences.

Featuring illustrations by artists including Paul Nash, Judy Chicago, Pablo Picasso, Melanie Friend, Francis Bacon, Käthe Kollwitz, Yves Klein, Robert Rauschenberg, Dora Meeson, Otto Dix and many others, as well as those who are often overlooked, such as children, non-European artists and prisoners of war, this extensive survey is a fitting and timely contribution to the understanding, memory and commemoration of war, and will appeal to a wide audience interested in warfare, art, history or politics.

Introduction by Joanna Bourke, with essays by Jon Bird, Monica Bohm-Duchen, Joanna Bourke, Grace Brockington, James Chapman, Michael Corris, Patrick Crogan, Jo Fox, Paul Gough, Gary Haines, Clare Makepeace, Sue Malvern, Sergiusz Michalski, Manon Pignot, Anna Pilkington, Nicholas J. Saunders, John Schofield, John D. Szostak, Sarah Wilson and Jay Winter.


‘This exciting collection of original and beautifully illustrated essays is essential reading for anyone interested in the visual representation of war in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.’ — Sir Richard Evans, President of Wolfson college, Cambridge, and author of The Third Reich at War

‘This ambitious volume will be a landmark in the study of war as well as in visual culture studies.’ — Peter Burke, Professor Emeritus of Cultural History and Fellow of Emmanuel College

‘What happens when you encourage a group of archivists, archeologists, anthropologists and historians of all sorts into the terrain of war art? An extraordinary collection, exhilarating in its ways of seeing, consistently moving in its attention to artists and the audiences – soldiers and statesmen; men, women, and children – for war’s pity and terror.’ — Carolyn Steedman FBA, Emeritus Professor, University of Warwick

‘Beautifully illustrated and covers everything from the often neglected role of women artists to the strange decorations found in Cold War bunkers; from the works of some of the most notable war artists to questions about history and memory.  It is a must read for anyone interested in the art of war, and in our complex human responses to the violence of conflict and the commemoration of battle.’ — Alexandra Richie, author of Faust’s Metropolis. A History of Berlin (1998) and Warsaw 1944: Hitler, Himmler, and the Warsaw Uprising (2013)