Coquelicot Art of the First World War
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Albin Egger-Linz, Den Namenlosen, 1914 (Those Who Have Lost Their Names, 1914), 1916, tempera on canvas, 243 x 475 cm, Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Vienna.

© Heeresgeschichtliches Museum, Wien.

The death

101 - Albin Egger-Linz

When war broke out, Egger-Linz (1868-1926) was forty-six and, unlike the major Viennese artists of the time such as Schiele and Kokoschka, too old to take a direct part in the war. He did however witness the fighting on the Alpine Front from 1915 on. But, more than his portraits and his few paintings of the fighting in the mountains, he is best known for his monumental compositions. Even before the war was over, he represented it symbolically in War (1915-16) and in this painting. Taken from the historical viewpoint alone, despite the details of the helmets, stick grenades and boots, this painting is not plausible. As the title tells us, his purpose lies elsewhere, in the statement that war condemns each man to the anonymity of a shared, inexplicable and almost invisible death. The faces are expressionless or turned towards the ground. The postures are identical. The nameless men have lost all individuality, and sink together in step into the pockmarked earth in which they are to be buried.