Unmaking the Modern: Disasters of the Great War
Anderson lived through two World Wars. Yet he never saw combat. During the Great War, he was declared unfit for service due to a heart condition. He took on a job at the Arsenal in Woolwich in London. During that time, he produced very few prints.
In 1919, Anderson commemorated the end of the war by depicting the Cenotaph. The memorial we know today was erected a year later. To Our Glorious Dead (pictured above) shows the temporary version, made of plaster and wood, and the spontaneous laying of wreaths by the public. The etching was commissioned by a print publisher who anticipated that it would be marketable at a time of national grief.
In far more personal performances, Anderson commented bitterly on War’s Glory (shown below) and the Spirit of the Trenches. In a series of twelve watercolour paintings, he rebuked a complaisant older generation for financing and profiting from the war. He also condemned the complicity of church and press in the sanctioning of slaughter.
In their confrontational directness, these works recall Gillray’s caricatures of the French Revolution as well as Goya’s Disasters of War series. Until now, they have never been made public.