War and Its Aftermath

November 11, 2008
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Editors' Note: For Veterans Day we asked Austen to select three relevant paintings from our permanent collection and tell us about them. Two of the works are not on view, but you can see the Childe Hassam on the third floor of Art of the Americas Building. And today's holiday is a good day to do so, because general admission is free all day.

I thought of these paintings because they encapsulate a range of artistic responses on the part of American artists to the war efforts during World War I (1914-1918), and inspired art patronage in Los Angeles. These works also underscore the internationalism of war and its aftermath.

F. Childe Hassam, Avenue of the Allies: Brazil, Belgium, 1918

In the fall of 1918, the fourth and last of the Liberty Loan Drive fundraising parades was held in New York, and each block on Fifth Avenue from Twenty-Fourth to Fifty-Eighth streets was dedicated to the flags of a different Allied nation. Childe Hassam depicted that 1918 scene at the block devoted to Brazil and Belgium along what became known as the "Avenue of the Allies."

George Benjamin Luks, Czechoslovakian Army Entering Vladivostok, Siberia, in 1918, 1918

Luks's painting imagines the triumphant conclusion of the Czechoslovakian army's march across Siberia in the drive for independence and to become an Allied Nation. Their success was celebrated on Czechoslovak Day, October 3, 1918, held during the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive Hassam painted. These two paintings were given to LACMA in the 1920s by William Preston Harrison, whose art bequests form the historic core of the LACMA's American art collection.

William Wendt, The Mantle of Spring, 1917

The Mantle of Spring by Wendt was given to LACMA in 1921 by the Los Angeles District Federation of Women's Clubs in "grateful tribute to the Boys of America who gave their lives and the Mothers who gave their Sons in the World War." Wendt's lush California spring landscape, when our state's parched brown hills turn bright green during winter rains, is of course a poignant metaphor for rebirth and renewal after the devastation of war.

Austen Bailly