Audio transcript

Merry –Go-Round is one of Gertler’s most experimental works. Some critics consider it one of the most significant paintings of the First World War. It shows a group of sixteen stiff men and women, military and civilians, all trapped on a never-ending carousel ride.

Gertler creates a claustrophobic atmosphere by filling most of the canvas with the image of the out-of-control roundabout. The carousel looks precarious, as if at any moment it might crush or suffocate its riders. The doll-like figures all have unsettling, open-mouthed expressions. You can almost imagine the sound of their cries as the spin in eternal anguish.