Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Of Art, War, PTSD, and Therapy


Ernst Ludwig Kirchner "Self Portrait as Soldier"

        About two years ago, I learned of an art exhibit which was being presented by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons called, "Wounded In Action: An Art Exhibition Of Orthopaedic Advancements". After submitting a painting , I was asked to come and give a presentation for the exhibit's premiere at their 2010 convention, which was to be held in New Orleans, LA. I accepted the offer with great enthusiasm and started to work on the project right away, searching through art books and researching the Internet to find good material for the presentation. I focused on the painting above, which I found in a book about Modern Art. After learning more about the painting and more importantly, the artist, I realized it would be the perfect subject with which to start my presentation.
           The painting above was done by the very famous German artist and WWI veteran, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. Kirchner is considered by many to be the father of the Expressionist movement. His experience in the First World War affected his art deeply. When the Nazis came to power in the 1930's, Kirchner and other prominent artists were persecuted for they're beliefs and lifestyles. Hitler declared him and others as "Degenerates" and confiscated many of their works. Kirchner's persecution along with problems most assuredly associated with PTSD , led him to commit suicide at the age of 58. An ironic footnote to this tragedy( and also a little known fact) is that Hitler himself was once an aspiring young artist and in fact a very talented painter of architecture. After WWI , Hitler was rejected from prominent art schools and many have speculated that this rejection was the reason for his later persecution of other artists.
           In any case, I was immediately drawn to Kirchner's self portrait and spoke about it greatly during my presentation (which can be seen below). I also spoke about how art has become a great source of therapy for me in dealing with a devastating injury and the loss of a fellow soldier. I've recently acquired a video of the presentation I made at "Wounded In Action" and  have posted it below. My painting titled, "We Honor The  Fallen"  won Best In Show at the exhibit, which can be seen at the following  link: http://www.woundedinactionart.org/artist.php?artist_uid=20 . You can further browse the preceding link to see the complete exhibit, which has been touring the country for the past two years.
          
                                  video                                            My Presentation At "Wounded In Action"

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