Photography: First World War, 1914-1918
Art Gallery of Ontario
The First World War is recognized as a period of mass violence and destruction, but also as a beginning. The war ushered in technological innovation, mechanizing and recording war in ways previously impossible. The growing pervasiveness of photography resulted in a conflict well-documented by military officials, press agencies, and amateurs alike. The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) holds nearly 500 albums from this period, a unique and extensive collection donated in 2004 by a private collector. The albums reveal different aspects of the relationship between warfare and photography; retrospectively, all of them—personal, official, and commercial—engage in a dialogue with history by presenting unique visual narratives that uphold or challenge historical perceptions of war. The breadth of albums and accounts—British, French, German, Canadian, Austrian, American, Australian, Italian, Czech, and Russian—expose the multiplicities of experience as well as the commonalities of war.