Why haven’t we learned our lesson? War in art: November 20

As rockets and missiles fly over the Middle East for what must be the millionth time, I wanted to present a selection of some of the most well-known representations of war in art. People fighting to kill each other, whether it’s for land or power or misguided searches for weapons of mass destruction, it always ends the same way: there’s a winner and a loser and more people have died unnecessarily in the process.

We should value human life above all else, even above the need to get or keep statehood. There are too many rational voices in the world now for our disagreements to have to end in death, especially the deaths of civilians, people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time and lose their lives because of it. We’ve been depicting war through our art representationally for thousands of years, and although things seem to be getting better now that we can all learn about things so quickly, there’s still way too much hate in this world.

Centauromachy, from the Parthenon metopes, 447-432 BCE

from a class slideshow

The Rape of the Sabine Women, part of the story of Rome’s founding

from a class slideshow

US Civil War, 1861-1865

found here.

Guernica by Pablo Picasso, interpretation of the Spanish Civil War, 1937

found here.

Vietnam War, 1959-1975

found here.

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