Laura Brandon, Historian, Art and War, Canadian War Museum, is the author of Art or Memorial? The Forgotten History of Canada’s War Art (2006) and Art and War (2007), a survey of western war art. Of her more than 40 exhibitions, the most recent are Transformations: A. Y. Jackson and Otto Dix and Witness: Canadian First World War Art, which recently closed in Ottawa. Dr. Brandon holds a B.A. (Hons.) in History and Art History from the University of Bristol, England, an M.A. in Art History from Queen’s University, Canada, and a Ph.D. in History from Carleton University, Canada. She is an adjunct professor in the School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University, Ottawa.
Synopsis: Women. War. Art.
This brief Ontario-focussed presentation primarily explores the work and exhibition of women war artists in the Canadian War Museum’s art collection. It includes depictions of women by male artists and touches on the military artwork of women artists not represented in the museum’s collection. With war for most of this period experienced as a predominantly masculine pursuit women’s presence as participants and artists was understandably limited. Nevertheless, by the First World War, women’s evolving wartime roles were occasionally depicted in sometimes unexpected ways by male artists, and women artists were more numerously employed, albeit on the home front. With only a few notable exceptions, female war-related subject matter and employment opportunities for women artists in wartime changed relatively little during the Second World War. Only after the Cold War, as women’s soldiering roles expanded to include combat did female war artists find increasing employment, several substantially expanding the military art genre. This history is reflected in the Canadian War museum’s exhibitions in the period.