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The Great War: The Persuasive Power of Photography

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SOURCE National Gallery of Canada

A remarkable selection of photographs drawn from national and international collections in an effort to illustrate the many important roles that photography played during the  First World War.

On view at the National Gallery of Canada
until November 16, 2014

OTTAWA, June 25, 2014 /CNW/ - The National Gallery of Canada marks the centennial of the beginning of the First World War with the exhibition The Great War: The Persuasive Power of Photography. On view from June 27 to November 16, 2014, the exhibition brings together a diverse and remarkable selection of over 400 photographs drawn from national and international collections in an effort to illustrate the many important roles that photography played during the First World War.

Photography's ability to capture unvarnished reality and sheer volume made it an asset in documenting a war in which there was unprecedented carnage and inexhaustible need.

Although photography was already being used to document armed conflict, the First World War marked a turning point for this medium. Alongside political and military uses of photography, the personal use of cameras by soldiers emerged as a new phenomenon, while studio portraits and personal albums illustrate the major role played by photography in private life. As a whole, these visual records offer an intimate, authentic and comprehensive view of the everyday realities of war.

Through concentrated displays of portraits, stereographs, and aerial and panoramic views, The Great War: The Persuasive Power of Photography illustrates how photography conveyed the reality, the fiction, the ugliness, and the bravery of World War I.

The first part of this exhibition chronicles the transition from peace to war as it examines the personal importance of photographic images to those who served. Authorized Canadian images are presented in a re-creation of a room from the Grafton Galleries 1917 exhibition Canadian Official War Photographs in London, followed by a selection of vintage war photographs by British, Canadian, Australian, French, and German photographers.

The dissemination of official images to the public in the form of popular commercial stereographs is also represented, as are panoramic group portraits of units. The strategic use of photography can be seen in the epic panoramas of battlegrounds and aerial views, as well as in the illustration of propaganda sheets dropped from airplanes and balloons and later published in counter-propaganda publications that appeared after the war.

The Great War: The Persuasive Power of Photography is organized by the National Gallery of Canada with the generous collaboration of the Archive of Modern Conflict, London; Archive of Modern Conflict, Toronto; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia; Canadian War Museum, Ottawa; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa; Neil David MacDonald; Musée de l'Armée, Paris; Ryerson Image Centre, Ryerson University, Toronto; The William Ready Division of Archives and Research Collections, McMaster University Library; and Wilson Centre for Photography, London.

Curator
Ann Thomas, Curator of the National Gallery of Canada's Photographs Collection, is the curator of The Great War: The Persuasive Power of Photography.

Catalogue
A 144-page bilingual and richly illustrated catalogue complements the exhibition. On sale at the NGC Boutique or online at shopNGC.ca. for $39. Member pricing: $33.15.

Share Your Photos
Share your family photographs of World War I on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #NGCWar

Twitter: @gallerydotca
Instagram: @ngc_mbac

Meet the Curator
Friday 27 June at 12:15 pm. Visit The Great War: The Persuasive Power of Photography with Ann Thomas, Curator, Photographs Collection. In English with bilingual question period. Free with Gallery admission.

Lectures
Saturday 28 June at 2 pm. Soldier Photographers at the Centre of the Great War, by Anthony Petiteau, responsible for the photographic collections at the Musée de l'Armée (Paris, France). In French with simultaneous translation and bilingual question period. Lecture Hall. Free.

For the first time in history, a conflict is widely photographed by the soldiers themselves. Their pictures raise questions about the photographers' motivations, the conditions under which the photos were taken and the image of war they convey.

Saturday 27 September at 2 pm The First Popular Photography War: Soldiers' Pictures 1914-1918, by Janina Struk, Documentary photographer and author. In English with simultaneous translation and bilingual question period. Lecture Hall. Free.

Saturday 4 October at 2 pm Lens above Lens: The Development & Use of Aerial Photography in WWI, by Gordon Beck, Map Specialist, McMaster University Library. In English with simultaneous translation and bilingual question period. Lecture Hall. Free.

Film
Sunday 14 September at 2 pm AND Thursday 25 September at 6:30 pm. The First World War From Above, 2010, 52 minutes. The story of the Great War told from a unique new aerial perspective. In English. Lecture Hall. Free.

Admission
Admission to The Great War: The Persuasive Power of Photography is included in admission to the NGC Collection. Adults: $12; Seniors and full-time students: $10; youth aged 12-19: $6; families (two adults and three youth): $24. Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members. Free admission Thursdays between 5 pm and 8 pm and on the following dates: Tuesday July 1st,  2014 (Canada Day), Sunday July 6,  2014 (Canada History Week), Sunday September 28,  2014 (Culture Days), and Tuesday November 11, 2014 (Remembrance Day). For more information: 613.998.8888 or 1.888.541.8888.

Hours
Until October 1st, the NGC is open Monday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. For more information call 613-990-1985 or 1-800-319-ARTS.

NGC Magazine
NGCmagazine.ca, the National Gallery of Canada's online magazine is a frequently updated source of information on the Canadian art world and the goings-on at the National Gallery of Canada.  Correspondents from across the country provide engaging and exclusive content on historical and contemporary art in Canada. This online magazine includes exclusive interviews with artists.

Connect with the Gallery
Follow the Gallery's latest news on its social media networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

About the National Gallery of Canada 
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information: gallery.ca.

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