Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Frans Masereel, Arise, You Dead, Infernal Resurrection, 1917, woodcut, 14 x 11 cm, Musée d'Histoire Contemporaine - BDIC, Paris.

© SESAM, Paris, 1998.

The death

93 - Frans Masereel

Masereel (1889-1972) was in Geneva during the Great War and here joined in the fight to stop the war, a hopeless struggle, given the general fervour. Ink drawings and woodcuts were his instruments, and his engravings were brought together in collections Arise, You Dead and The Dead Speak which are unequivocal denunciations of the blood-letting. Masereel simplifies, brutalises, contrasting black and white. He takes scenes and photographs from the newspapers and in a drawing style all of his own, he takes suffering to unbearable extremes. Or he uses a macabre and fantastic style with two headless bodies carrying their heads on a stretcher, one with a French képi and the other with a German helmet. It is madness everywhere, a madness against which Masereel knows he is powerless.