Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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  17-Nevinson

C. R. W. Nevinson, Machine-gun, 1915, oil on canvas, 61 x 50.8 cm, Tate Gallery, London.

© Tate Gallery, London 1998.

 
The battlefield
161718

17 - C. R. W. Nevinson

Nevinson (1889-1946) emerged as one of the major painters of the Great War, on a par with Léger in France and Dix in Germany. The son of a journalist and famous war correspondent, Nevinson went to Paris in 1911, where he discovered Cubism, which was to have a lasting influence on him and which taught him all about construction and the geometry of modern forms. His representation of the machine-gun and its operator is exemplary: the hard lines of the machinery dictate those of the robotised soldiers who become as one with the killing machine. The painting caused quite a stir, in France as well as in Britain. Apollinaire praised its painter as being one who "translates the mechanical aspect of modern warfare where man and machine combine to form a single force of nature. His painting Machine-gun conveys this idea exactly. Nevinson belongs to the school of the English avant-garde influenced by both the young Italian and French schools."