Before World War One, European culture was experiencing a “Golden Age” of sorts. In spite of the underlying conflicts that were slowly forming, the majority of the people were relatively content. However, World War One challenged the prewar assumptions of the nineteenthcentury European culture. After the war was over, several countries were devastated, war was nothing like the grand, heroic ideals that people had imagined. On the other hand, the end of the war led people to begin to embrace their lives and new artistic movements were formed. People’s perspectives also began to change, both scientifically and otherwise.
Before WWI, many people viewed war as a chance for people to become heroes.
War was seen as a clean, easy matter where the opposing sides acted like perfect gentlemen. After the war was over though, people came to view war very differently.
Otto Dix, a German painter is famous for his painting “War”, in which the true horrors and gruesome realities of war are depicted. Dix was a soldier in the war and took every opportunity possible to give people accurate portrayals of war in order to educate people who had no knowledge of the subject. (Doc 1). An Irish poet, W. B. Yeats also described the terrible bloodshed and senseless murder in his famous poem “The
Second Coming” which was written shortly after the war had ended. However, unlike
Dix, Yeats did not want to simply shed light on war. He believed that society had completely broken down and there was no recovery: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…” (Doc 4). German writer Erich
Maria Remarque described the hopelessness that people around him had been experiencing since the end of the war. Germans in particular had been hit especially hard by the results of the war, which Remarque described in his “All Quiet on the
Western Front”, in which he wrote “... Our knowledge of life is limited to death. What will happen afterwards? And what shall come of us?”, which emphasized the slow despair that gripped his nation. (Doc 5).
World War One also had some positive effects, such as leading to a new artistic movement and to a sort of “carpe diem” attitude in people, especially women. One of the more famous paintings that emerged during this time period was “Three Musicians” by Pablo Picasso, which is a perfect example of the cubism style. The Cubism movement is known for being an intellectual style because of the analysis that the artists put into their work and the way the viewer has to participate with the artist in order to make the artwork make sense. (Doc 2). This new idea of Cubism, intellectual art, reflected the way women were being forced to change. Prior to WWI, women were not expected to take control of anything other than household chores. However, during
the war, their responsibilities changed. When the men went off to war, the women were left to run households and to take over jobs and even start playing a role in local governments. Helena Swanwick wrote about the changing responsibilities that the government had caused for women.