"For the hell of it"


ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN ITALICS




Tiden op til første verdenskrig var spændingsfyldt, industrialiseringen var stærk, men ikke afklaret, selv i journalistikken var der med Georg Brandes' ord gået "Industrialisme". Krigen blev en realitet.

The time leading to the declaration of the First World War was ridden with tension. Industrialization was strong, but not settled, and even journalism had with the words of Georg Brandes succumbed to "industrialism". The war became a reality.


William Orpen, Self Portrait, 1917, Imperial War Museum

Den unge kunstnergeneration i de krigsførende lande blev indkaldt. Nogle fik officielle hverv som krigskunstnere og kom uden for direkte livsfare, dog alle blev de mærket for livet. De kunstneriske nybrud, som industrialiseringen havde betydet, nye måder at se verden og fortolke den på i kunsten, var der ikke brug for i krigsindustrien, og bagefter var der intet overskud eller tiltro til at fortsætte.

The young generation of artists in the war-faring countries enlisted. Some got official duties as war artists and were safe from any direct danger, but they were all scarred for life. The artistic breakthroughs of new ways of seeing and interpreting the world which had been another result of the industrialization were flatly rejected by the war propaganda. And afterwards there was no strength or hope left to experiment.


C.R.W. Nevinson, Paths of Glory, 1917, Imperial War Museum. 
Maleriet blev første gang udstillet under krigen 
med brunt papir over påskrevet "CENSUR", der dækkede de to mænd/
The painting was first exhibited during the War 
with brown paper inscribed with the word "CENSORED" covering the two men.

I det omfang de slog deres navne fast i efterkrigstiden, hørte deres idéverden derfor til i tiden før.

To the extent that they became well-known names in the postwar period, their ideas belonged to the time that went before.


Wyndham Lewis, A Battery Shelled, 1919, Imperial War Museum 
- i en tilpasset figurativ stil af mænd og ammunition mellem røg og stammer, med rester af hans hidtidige nykonstruktion af figurationen i rytmeforløb. Her bygget op gennem lys og skygge/
- in a customized figurative style of men and ammunition in between smoke and tree trunks, with remnants of his former reinterpretation of figuration into rhythmic waves. Created here through the use of light and shadow.

Samme periode blev om ikke nytænkende, så en travl tid for deres danske kolleger. Danmark var neutralt og krigsopgaverne derfor ikke-eksisterende. I stedet steg efterspørgslen på dekorationsopgaver voldsomt. Gullaschbaronerne havde midler, som de ville omsætte på stedet. Jeg har selv gået i skole i et tidligere bordel bygget til gullaschbaronerne med mosaik af spillekort i gulvet og en fontæne, der havde sprunget vin.

Valdemar opgav nærmest at arbejde på papir - plakater og helsiderne i tidsskrifterne - for at lave totaludsmykninger i private restauranter, loger og boliger. Hans gamle trykkere begræd hans manglende tid til papirarbejderne, men der var efterspørgsel på hans kunnen og al grund til at gribe chancen.

The war years were if not exactly innovative then a busy time for their Danish colleagues. Denmark was neutral and the business of war thus non-existent. In its place there was a significant rise in the demand for art on the monumental scale. Those who profited from sending – or more accurately selling – supplies of an appallingly poor quality to the insatiable front, wanted to spend their fortunes here and now. I went to school in a former brothel built for the said profiteers and the building still had a floor mosaic of playing cards and a large fountain of stone that had once sprung wine.

In those years Valdemar Andersen hardly did any work on paper - posters and the full pages in the magazines for which we know him today – to decorate restaurants, companies, banks, private homes and even a masonic lodge. His old printers bemoaned his lack of time for their own work, but his talent was in high demand and there was every reason to seize the opportunity. 


John Singer Sargent, Gassed, 1919, Imperial War Museum 
- den rosa tone nedskrives i alle gengivelser af maleriet. På samme tid overdrevet, idet der kækt spilles fodbold i baggrunden, som det fortæller om overvældende smerte udpenslet på et lærred over 6 meter langt/
- the pink covering the whole canvas is toned down in all reproductions of the painting. 
It is a scenery of excess, placing a game of football in the background, 
while it unfolds overwhelming pain across a canvas of more than 6 meters.

En enkelt tegner befandt sig udenlands, da krigen blev erklæret: Hans Bendix var elev på Slade School of Art, hvor han i første omgang var uden for rækkevidde som neutral statsborger. Efterhånden som manglen på unge mænd voksede, følte også han jorden brænde under sig og i sidste øjeblik lykkedes det ham at blive krigstegner. Han blev attacheret den fremmeste af dem alle, kunstneren C.R.W. Nevinson, som assistent og blev sendt til fronten i oktober 1918, måneden før fredsslutningen. På det tidspunkt var alle parader for længe siden opgivet. Selv officererne pointerede, at han var sendt ud "for the hell of it". Intet skulle skulle skjules i kunsten.

Bedst huskede han bagefter de tynde fly, som han og Nevinson blev sendt op i for at tegne fra fronten i det store perspektiv. Flyene syntes papirtynde og Hans Bendix lod tegneblokken falde på gulvet for at holde sig fast. Overhovedet fik han ikke tegnet meget fra fronten, mest interessant er selve clearingen af ham, der er bevaret i Imperial War Museum, hvor myndighederne vurderede, om hans tegninger ville være egnede til propagandaformål. De var ikke så meget interesserede i indholdet af hans tegninger, som hvorvidt han tegnede godt nok?

One cartoonist found himself in foreign waters, when war was declared. Hans Bendix was a student at the Slade School of Art, where at first as a citizen of a neutral country he was out of reach of the recruitment campaigners. But as the shortage of young men grew, he too felt the earth burn beneath him and at the last minute he managed to sign up to be a war artist. He became an assistant to the most celebrated war artist at the time, C.R.W. Nevinson, and was sent to the front in October 1918, a month before the conclusion of the war. At that time, all parades had long been abandoned. Even the officers at the front pointed out to him that his job was to document it all "for the hell of it". There was no longer any point in pretending otherwise.

Later in life his most vivid memory from the front was the tiny planes in which Nevinson and he himself were sent out in order to draw the big picture from an Olympic perspective. The planes seemed to him to be as thin as paper and Hans Bendix let his drawing pad drop to the floor to cling to the sides of the plane. He did not get much done at the front, in fact the primary fact of interest to us today from his time there, was the formal clearing that took place beforehand, now in the archives of the Imperial War Museum. After all the authorities had to wonder whether someone doing satire and being neutral to boot, would be suitable for propaganda purposes. As it happened, their main question was not so much the contents of his work, but whether he drew sufficiently well?


C.R.W. Nevinson, Building Aircraft: Banking at 4000 Feet, 1917, National Galleries of Scotland 
- også han har tydeligvis følt brug for at holde sig fast.
– he too obviously felt the need for gripping onto everything.


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