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Museum Explore

As They Saw It

Artists Witnessing War

March 5–May 30, 2022

As They Saw It

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

I saw it. (detail), Plate 44 from "The Disasters of War"

1810-1820, printed after 1863
Etching and aquatint.
The Clark Art Institute, 2015.4.44.

Visual media have long played a key role in documenting military conflict. Especially for those far from the front, eyewitness imagery is crucial to understanding what may be happening on the battlefield. Yet artists’ depictions of the wrenching conditions and consequences of war may even transcend their historical origins to become lasting monuments to suffering and sacrifice. This exhibition brings together a diverse selection from the Clark’s holdings: both pro- and anti-Napoleonic imagery (including Goya’s Los Desastres de la Guerra); Civil War photographs and wood engravings; and multiple perspectives on World War I. It also features images of Black Americans in military service, whose contribution has often been underrepresented. Spanning four centuries of European and American art (1520–1920), this exhibition shows how prints, drawings, and photographs have put a human face on the sometimes abstract idea of conflict.

This exhibition is organized by the Clark Art Institute and curated by Anne Leonard, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.