Although earlier wars had been documented through photography, the First World War represented a significant turning point for the medium. The official photographs reflect the planning, censorship and continuous need to generate public support for the cause. Meanwhile, the Allied Forces and Central Powers chose to use photography as a tool with which to develop strategy, spy, provoke and persuade. In sharp contrast to the political and militaristic use of the medium was the undeniable importance of its personal use, seen in the popularity of studio portraits of soldiers and their family members, as well as personal albums composed prior to, during and after the war to create permanent records of lives that were at risk. This exhibition brings together a diverse and remarkable selection of photographs drawn from national and international collections in an effort to illustrate the many important roles that photography played during the war.
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; Wilson Centre for Photography, London
To mark the First World War centenary, IWM (Imperial War Museums) in the UK is piecing together the stories of the 8 million men and women from across the Commonwealth who served in uniform and worked on the home front.
Share your knowledge of Canadians’ contributions to WWI on IWM’s Lives of the First World War at www.livesofthefirstworldwar.org.
Learn about Canadians’ participation in WWI on Radio-Canada’s website 14–18: La Grande Guerre des Canadiens. Share your own family’s WWI stories at ICI.Radio-Canada.ca/1418 (in French).