World War I had a major effect on Belgian visual arts. German occupation, the horror at the battlefield and the experience of exile led to multiple narratives and artistic expressions by Belgian artists during and after the war. The book 14/18 – Rupture or Continuity takes a look at Belgian artistic life in the years around the First World War and how it was affected by this event.
The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century was a special period for the Belgian arts. Not only is art-nouveau architecture flourishing, painters such as Constantin Meunier and James Ensor and authors including Maurice Maeterlinck and Emile Verhaeren earned their place in the history books. It is during that time that World War I breaks out in Belgium.
Despite the horrors of war, it is an artistically rich period. The Great War was a catalyst of artistic oppositions, leading on the one hand to a Belgian avant-garde that explored new forms and styles, while continuing to uphold a more traditional and established art on the other. The collection of essays in the book 14/18 – Rupture or Continuity highlights these contrasting facets of Belgian art in its rich historical context during the early 20th century.
The book is divided into five main themes: artists at war and abroad – on the front and in exile, occupation – influences on the art market and the intercultural exchanges, politicized art around World War I, Belgian art and the international avant-garde of the 1920’s-networks and case studies.
'14/18 – Rupture or Continuity' is published at Leuven University Press.