Editor's Note

Cover of Tate Etc. issue 43: Summer 2018

As an official war artist during the First World War, William Orpen may have been expected to depict the gallantry and glory of soldiers, as artists before him had done, but, as subsequent testaments, memoirs, poetry and paintings by witnesses attest, the unparalleled carnage would leave artists grasping for a new language.

As Joanna Bourke writes, Orpen wanted to expose viewers of his work to the vile realities of war, to see not only the 'amputated hand lying on the duckboards' but also the psychological aftermath of conflict. A dazed and partially clothed soldier, the survivor of a bomb blast, became the subject of Orpen's painting Blown Up 1917, in what was the first depiction of shell shock by an artist.

One hundred years on, the fallout of war on combatants and their families is an ongoing issue. A sizeable number of veterans are traumatised, homeless or unable to integrate back into normal life. So, when we remember the fallen of 1914 to 1918, let us not forget those who are suffering now, wherever they may have served. Nor should we forget the contribution of African soldiers during the Great War. William Kentridge's new piece – made in collaboration with composer Philip Miller, musical director Thuthuka Sibisi and choreographer Gregory Maqoma – premieres at Tate Modern this summer, focusing on the little-known story of the hundreds of thousands of African soldiers and civilians who served. Kentridge and his collaborators call this multi-faceted, multi-layered production (titled The Head and the Load) an 'interrupted musical procession', which at its heart explores, in Kentridge's words, the 'incomprehension: of Africa by Europe, of Europe by Africa'.

The year 1918 was also the year that saw the death of at least 50 million from a global influenza pandemic. One victim was the Austrian artist Egon Schiele, who died aged only 28, just two months after his pregnant wife Edith. While we could regard his self-portraits as neat visual parallels to the horror of war, they were, as Gemma Blackshaw writes, studiously borrowed from the 'pathological expressions' found among patients at Steinhof, Vienna's leading psychiatric institution.

Schiele understood the power of the artist as persona. However self-absorbed his cri de coeur might appear now, his extraordinary works no doubt still resonate with those stricken soldiers who have dared to stare death in the face, for our sake.

Contents

Francesca Woodman: Vanishing Act

Deborah Levy

Francesca Woodman's ghostly photographs show her on the verge of disappearance

Egon Schiele: Crazier Than I Look?

Gemma Blackshaw

Egon Schiele's self-portraits have often been regarded as the works of a tortured, introspective artist, but this notion blinds us ...

Aftermath: Confronting Oblivion

Joanna Bourke

How British, German, Belgian and French artists expressed the psychological fallout of the First World War

Paradise

Hisham Matar

This writer considers his affinity for the early Renaissance paintings of the Sienese school, finding in one work the universal ...

Shape of Light: Through the Lens of Abstraction

Barbara Kasten

The American photographer pays homage to the modernist practitioners who have influenced her

Patrick Heron: A Life of Many Dimensions

Katharine Heron and Susanna Heron

Patrick Heron's daughters celebrate some lesser-known aspects of the painter's life and work

Lynn Hershman Leeson: Avatar

Michelle Kuo

For the past five decades, the American artist and filmmaker has continually tested the boundaries between real and virtual identities ...

The Head & the Load: Heavy History

Sean O’Toole

The world premiere of The Head and the Load, created by William Kentridge along with composer Philip Miller, musical director ...

In the Archive: Donald Rodney's ‘Splash Crowns’

Ishion Hutchinson

Examining the powerful symbolism found in a sketchbook made by Donald Rodney while he was in hospital suffering from sickle-cell ...

Q&A: Lisa Brice

Lisa Brice and Aïcha Mehrez

We talk to the artist as her Art Now exhibition opens at Tate Britain

Unsung Heroes: Arthur Tress

Sunil Gupta

One photographer reveals how the work of Arthur Tress has never ceased to be an inspiration

Lives of the Artists: Angelica Kauffman

Martin Myrone

Reflecting on the life of the Swiss neo-classical painter who became one of the first members of the Royal Academy ...

Details, Details: Július Koller's Archaeological Monument-Presence (U.F.O.) 1983

Adam Frank

An astrophysicist reflects on the alien in the everyday

Private View: Edna Clarke Hall's watercolours

Anna Thomasson

The artist’s extraordinary watercolours, based on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, reflected her frustration in her married life

Opinion: Art and Nature

John-Paul Stonard

Art can only ever express the distance between humans and the natural world

Details, Details: Josef Albers’s Study for Homage to the Square: Beaming 1963

Margaret Howell

The clothing designer pays her respects to Albers’s use of colour

New Voices: Face Mask

Sharlene Teo

From our deepest insecurities to our darkest desires, the face tells it all

London 1968: The Poster Workshop

Alexander Peter Dukes

One of the founders looks back at the brief but prolific output of the Poster Workshop in London’s Camden Town

Online Exclusive

Q&A: Adrian Clark on John Rothenstein

Adrian Clark and Gregor Muir

To mark the publication of a new biography of former Tate Gallery Director John Rothenstein, Tate’s current Director of Collection ...