Volume from Healey Library’s Special Collections featured in Rose Art Museum exhibition

War Against War

Ernst Friedrich’s War Against War (1924), from University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston recently had the opportunity to broaden exposure to our collections by loaning our copy of Ernst Friedrich’s War Against War (1924) to the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis Museum, as a centerpiece for their current exhibition, 1914: Magnus Plessen. Organized by Rose Art Museum curator-at-large Katy Siegel, 1914:Magnus Plessen incorporates recent work by Berlin-based painter Magnus Plessen (b.1967) alongside the historical materials and documents of World War I that inspired this body of work.

Curator Katy Siegel notes that in 1924, Ernst Friedrich published War Against War, a book of photographs that documented the experience of World War I. In Friedrich’s visual narrative, early German patriotic fervor gives way quickly to terrible consequences, including the injuries that trench warfare inflicted on individual soldiers. The images themselves were controversial, shocking in their force and frankness.

About 75 years after the initial publication of War Against War, contemporary Berlin artist Magnus Plessen obtained a copy. He has been looking at the book for the past decade, turning over in his mind the images of grievously wounded— now dead—soldiers he cannot forget. In 2012, he was impelled to begin paintings and drawings, working with those images. Unlike the original photographs, the subject of these art works is not the literal, graphic depiction of wounds, but the figurative hole in the original self or self-image of the soldier. Velvety black areas mark these blind spots. A dozen of Plessen’s paintings and accompanying drawings are exhibited, alongside selections from Dix’s print series, copies of Friedrich’s book, and a variety of archival and documentary materials.

1914: Magnus Plessen runs from September 10 through December 14, 2014, at the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University.

University Archives & Special Collections in the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston collects materials related to the university’s history, as well as materials that reflect the institution’s urban mission and strong support of community service, notably in collections of records of urban planning, social welfare, social action, alternative movements, community organizations, and local history related to neighboring communities.

University Archives & Special Collections welcomes inquiries from individuals, organizations, and businesses interested in donating materials of an archival nature that that fit within our collecting policy. These include manuscripts, documents, organizational archives, collections of photographs, unique publications, and audio and video media. For more information about donating to University Archives & Special Collections, click here or email library.archives@umb.edu.

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