Imagining and Remembering the Soldier at the Imperial War Museum (1980-1995)
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This research addresses the contemporary representation of the soldier in art by focusing on the work commissioned by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) over the period 1980-1995, which includes Linda Kitson (b. 1945), for the Falklands War in 1982, John Keane (b.1954) in the Gulf War in 1991, and Peter Howson's (b. 1958) work in Bosnia between 1992–1994. From a foundation of existing academic research on the representation of the soldier in art, which has informed a framework of investigation into imagery of the soldier as hero, as masculine ideal and as a symbol of nationalism, I examine how the soldier has been imagined, interpreted, modified and depicted by these contemporary artists. This thesis also considers how their work presents an alternative narrative to these wars and the soldiers who are part of it, to that of other artists and photographers. The soldier is a central icon in the representation and remembrance of war in art, but it is an area of research that has not been fully considered in the contemporary collection of the IWM. Of the many institutions in Britain to house art relating to war, the museum owns the most extensive national collection thereby making it significant in the history of patronage of war art. Reflecting on the changing scope of the IWM, I consider the impact the collection, has on the way soldier can be remembered.
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