From Swords to Plowshares: Trench Art from WWI & Songs of the Patriot

February 2 - April 13, 2014

From Swords to Plowshares: Trench Art from WWI

Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the First World War, nearly 150 metal works of art are on display. Each piece exhibits the creative talent of its maker, yet each was created amid the destruction of war. The term “trench art” includes a wide range of objects fashioned from war materials that littered the landscape. The most common materials were spent artillery shells, bullets, shrapnel, aircraft parts, coins, and other miscellaneous metal detritus. Lamps, vases, and ashtrays—many demonstrating extraordinary craftsmanship—are the most common, but rarer sculptures, boxes, and religious objects are also on view. Many of the items were made by combat soldiers during quiet periods between battles, or by prisoners of war and convalescing soldiers. Some had no formal training while others came from metal-working professions. Articles often show a substantial level of skill, with highly polished, incised and embellished works being common. They are as varied and unique as the ingenuity and skill of the military and civilian artists who created them. They tell stories of bravery, grief, patriotism, love, loss, hope, and even humor in wartime. The works on display were made by soldiers from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Belgium, Italy, and Hungary. Lecture: The War Within the War of 1914-1918, Adam Hochschild, Sunday, February 2, 2014, 2 PM, LeFevre Theater.

Decorated artillery shell, brass artillery shell, WWI, Maker: Hungarian. Hollingsworth Collection (TA.44)

Songs of the Patriot

Songs of the Patriot, original sheet music covers and patriotic posters from World War I, reveal how isolationist America was influenced to support the war effort. The exhibit explores how music publishers, songwriters and cover artists captured and used a range of American wartime feelings—pacifist statements, hostility toward Germany, then support for troops overseas. A frequent theme was hope that loved ones would return safely. Most Americans wanted to stay out of Europe’s war. President Wilson narrowly won re-election in 1916, pledging neutrality. Yet as Germany gained strength, Wilson reversed course and declared war in April 1917. It impacted all areas of American life, with 3,500,000 Americans in uniform.

Desperately needing to draw isolationist Americans to the war effort, Wilson established the Committee on Public Information (CPI). Its sole purpose was to shift public opinion to favor involvement in the war. Called Army Song Leaders, composers were asked to write wartime music and a barrage of songs, pamphlets, posters and films grew from the CPI’s massive campaign. During the war 7,000 songs were published. George Cohan received $25,000 (today $450,000) forOver There, the most paid for a song to that time.

Both exhibitions are on loan from Hollingsworth Fine Art in Florida.

Laddie Boy (Good-Bye and Luck Be with You), 1917. Cover illustration by: Edgar Keller. Words by: Will D. Cobb. Music by: Gus Edwards. Published

Public reception: Sunday, February 2, 2014, 3-4 PM, museum patio

Based on his most recent book, To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, Berkeley author Adam Hochschild gives an illustrated talk about the hidden conflict of the First World War: the battle between people who felt it was a noble and necessary crusade, and those who felt it shouldn’t be fought at all—and who refused to fight.

In To End All Wars, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award for nonfiction, and in this talk, Hochschild elucidates this conflict of feelings by showing how it ran through several families. The same tension—between those who feel that war can solve a problem and those who feel most wars create more problems than they solve—still runs through our body politic today.

Adam Hochschild’s writing has usually focused on human rights and social justice. For the body of his work, he has received awards from the Lannan Foundation, the American Historical Association, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley.