British Columbia Sun

Hundred years of Canadian experts catching the actualities of war

Key points: 

  • A Hundred Years of war fine arts that ‘bears witness to victory, loss, service, and sacrifice.’ 
  • Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, shifted from National Gallery of Canada, 1971. 

Canada’s extraordinary history of war art: 

There have always been imaginative reactions to fights between various individuals and opponent countries throughout history. Canada has a remarkable history of war art, one that encloses a vast range of dynamic and, at times, surprising works. 

War art can be made by anyone and in effectively any material. It welcomes sculpture, graphics, film, photography, and digital media as well as craft, textiles, and carving. But the finest known Canadian optical records of war come from four solemn war art programmes, The First World War Canadian War Memorials Fund, the Second World War Canadian War Records, the Cold War Canadian Armed Forces Civilian Artists Program, and the current Canadian Forces Artists Program. Source –

These programmes have led soldiers together, following in the formation of staggering works of art that bear witness to victory, loss, service, and sacrifice. 

Also read: Cristopher John Rogers wins the title of a Top CFDA

Initiated to record the country’s gainings, the Canadian war Memorials Fund employed over 100 artists and resulted in the formation of nearly a thousand artworks, including various painters sent to the battlefront. 

Fedrick Varley brought together the dreadful scenes he had seen since his appointment as a solemn war artist earlier in 1918. 

Writing to his wife about his work that year, Varley reflected, “A photograph would be horrible of the same subjects because it would be deadly literal — I have escaped that and attained something worse — hopelessness, and to get it I have had to live it.”

When war arose again in 1939, artists lobbied for another formal art program, trusting that, in “total” war, they had a crucial role to play in communicating information and documenting shared events. 

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