The Pity of War


Through a chance encounter with a haunting image of a WW1 German soldier, I realized I had a special connection to The Great War, the war that was supposed to end war.

I began “The Pity of War” in 2014 as a four-year undertaking to coincide with the centennial of the WW1 conflict.  Searching through the vast photographic archive, I found French poilus, Russian infantrywomen, German Leutnants, British munitions workers, American doughboys—people thrown together in an apocalypse that violated all notions of what it meant to be a human being.

As I paint these portraits, each individual becomes vital and familiar. With the completion of each painting, the invisible line that stretches from me to them, from our time to theirs, becomes more dynamic.  We stand face to face and engage in a dialog about violence, war and destruction and about dignity, wisdom and compassion.

The project title comes from the English poet Wilfred Owen, whose own poetry unflinchingly describes the horrors he experienced as a soldier in the trenches of WW1: “My subject is War and the Pity of War. The poetry is in the pity.”

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