Greatest Artworks that Documented War and Called for Peace
Mankind seems to forget what a destructive force war brings, but there have always been artists nearby. Through art, they document the suffering for future generations, while also giving home at the moment.
Featured image: Fine Art, War and peace (Honorable Mention) By U.S. Air Force art by Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter
The human race has gone through several different stages in the development of civilization – we invented the wheel, learned how to fly like birds, launch rockets into space, hear the voice of the one we love through kilometres and research the tiniest details of the world matter through the microscope.
But a man himself has always been a man. We seek happiness, we love and weep, we dream and sometimes we give up. Human nature has not changed in all these millennia. Moreover, according to scientists, a person experiences happiness on the same biochemical level regardless of whether he bought a new Bugatti or was able to kill a mammoth for his tribe. However, there is one more thing that man continues to do despite all the developments of science. The man continues to fight.
War has always been a tragedy, and the ideas of humanism do not seem to work during attacks. Mankind seems to forget what a destructive force war brings, but there have always been artists nearby. Through art, they document the suffering for future generations, while also giving home at the moment.
Here are some of the most astonishing pieces of different genres created to document war – and call for peace.
Classical music: Symphony №7 by Shostakovich
Shostakovich created a piece with amazing depth and versatility, reflecting the life of the time. In fact, this symphony is built on rhythmic repetition with a slight change in each one, that is why it is so calming on the one hand, and mesmerizing on the other. This symphony is intrinsically linked to the theme of invasion, inquisition for blood, war and other enemies of humanity, unresolved tension being a testimony of what was happening, the Leningrad Siege that lasted for 872 days from 1941 to 1943 when Shostakovich composed it. It was first played under dire circumstances on August 9, 1942, nearly a year into the siege by German and Finnish forces. Symphony №7 or Leningrad as it is sometimes referred to, has become highly popular, becoming a symbol of resistance and defiance to fascism and totalitarianism.
Movie: “Underground” directed by Emir Kusturica
If you prefer visual art, then we have an unexpected option for you – the Serbian film by the famous director Emir Kusturica “Underground” (1995). The action of the movie takes place over about fifty years (from 1941 to early 1992) in Yugoslavia. We see how the war affects the fate of ordinary people, and how it changes them. This film is full of allusions and symbols. And if we can guess them all, then probably we will understand everything that happens a little more accurately. War is not only the business of those who wear green uniforms, and it does not end when they stop shooting. This is something that absolutely each of us will have to carry in our hearts for a very long time.
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Ballet: “Spartacus” by Aram Khachaturian
Spartacus tells the story of a warrior who is ready to fight for freedom to the end. He does not want to be someone’s toy. Spartacus is against the endless bloodlust of those who did not hold a sword in their hands. This ballet glorifies the strength of the human spirit and body, the ideals and values of human life.
Modern music: “I give you power” by Arcade Fire
Of the modern performers, we recommend listening to Arcade Fire. This is a Canadian indie rock band that has captivated many with their songs. But special attention should be paid to two of them “I give you power” and “Cranberries Zombie”. These songs refer us to military actions which we know so little about. But the feelings that the songs convey are understood by everyone.
Fine arts: “Memorial” by Fernando Sanchez Castillo
As for fine arts, we would like to include in this list the unexpected work of the contemporary Spanish artist Fernando Sanchez Castillo’s “Memorial”. The installation consists of 5000 figures from August Landmesser. Do you think you don’t know who that person is? We will show you otherwise.
The famous photo was taken in 1936. On it, you can see all the workers greet Hitler doing a famous gesture. All but one. This man was an anti-fascist, and his name was August Landmesser. A few years after this photo was taken he was arrested because his wife was Jewish, and his two daughters were sent to different orphanages. What happened to his wife is not known. But August Landmesser understood how destructive the Nazi ideology was.
The work of the artist Fernando Sanchez Castillo is dedicated to the courage of this man. In those moments when it seems to you that you are standing all alone against a whole crowd, just try to remember that even one person is already a lot.