The Timken Museum, San Diego
Witness to War: Callot, Goya and Bellows
On View through May 28th
Article by Cathy Breslaw
Witness to War is a selection of more than 100 works of a combination of etchings and iithographs documenting the consequences of war. A selection of works by three artists, Jacques Callot, Goya, and George Bellows, the exhibition spans wars from the 17th to 20th centuries. It covers three different centuries including the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) and World War 1 (1914-1918). These artworks portray wars’ suffering, savagery and abuses in a straightforward, honest and sometimes brutal way. There are a series of 18 etchings by French artist Callot depicting soldiers pillaging and burning their way through towns, country and convents. Francisco de Goya’s series of 80 prints are entitled The Disasters of War and The Tragedies of War. He depicts mutilation, torture, rape and many other atrocities besides – performed, indiscriminately, by French and Spanish alike. German atrocities of war in their invasion in Belgium during World War 1 were graphically depicted by American artist George Bellows. It is fascinating to study and observe the similarities and differences evident in each century’s wars depicted by these three highly acclaimed skilled and knowledgeable artists of their time, each examining war during their respective years.
In a unique collaboration with the San Diego Symphony, Special Project Director Nuvi Mehta choreographed a soundscape for the exhibition using the music of composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Gustav Mahler who produced symphonies influenced by their own experiences with wars’ brutality. The music, though heard in low volume, adds a fascinating dimension to the visual works on the walls, enhancing the emotion and intensity of the works. Witness to War provides viewers an opportunity to see war through the eyes of Callot, Goya and Bellows who each viewed war through the lens of their own particular time in history. The beauty of the lithographs and etchings exist in stark contrast to the atrocities they depict, which when closely observed, are quite evident.
This exhibition is on view through May 28th.