Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, La mitrailleuse en action (The Machine-gun in Action), 1915, pencil on paper, 28 x 22 cm, Musée National d'Art Moderne, Paris.

© Collections Mnam/Cci/Centre Georges Pompidou. Photo: Photothèque des collections du Mnam/Cci.

The battlefield

18 - Henri Gaudier-Brzeska

More basically, Gaudier-Brzeska (1891-1915) expresses the same idea in the same way: simplification, geometry and reducing man to diagrammatic form. It would be true to state that, despite being born in France, Gaudier-Brzeska belonged to the "English avant-garde" school. He lived in London where he made friends with the young artists belonging to the Vorticist movement who saw in him a reformer of sculpture and inventor of simple, synthetic forms, like them influenced by Cubism and the discovery of primitive civilisations.

18-Gaudier-BrzeskaThe machine-gun fire was so heavy that I would have been peppered with bullets even before I had made my first move. This was again brought home to me with my helmet, which I lifted just a little over ground level to see how high they were coming over. A second later it was shot out of my hand. So the firing was at ground level. I was too close to the enemy position not to be hit immediately by a marksman if I tried to escape.

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front.