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ICYMI: Images of War

June 15th, 2018

A photo from between 1914 and 1918 of a plane in flight, silhouetted against the sky.

Unknown Photographer, German. Silhouette of airplane in flight, around 1914–1918. Gelatin silver print, 13 x 18 cm. Anonymous Gift, 2004. 2004/303.2 © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario.

The First World War was a time of violence and destruction. It was also a time of rapid changes in military and aviation technology. Photography’s technology also evolved. An AGO exhibition, Photography: First World War, 1914–1918, highlights the fascinating role photography played in the war.

At the time, the millions of photographs taken by military officials, press agencies, soldiers and civilians made the First World War the most photographed war in history. The AGO has nearly 500 albums from this period, thanks to a collection generously donated in 2004 by a private collector, featuring images from different sides of the conflict. Many of the photographs were developed confidentially as highly classified records, offering views of war rarely seen.

In the Edmond G. Odette Family Gallery on Level 1, the exhibition highlights new military uses for photography. Right next door, in the Robert & Cheryl McEwen Gallery, works by Australian war photographer James Francis “Frank” Hurley (1885–1962) are featured.

We spoke with Ryerson University students Victoria Masters, Samuel Bernier-Cormier and Emily Miller, who worked with AGO Curator of Photography Sophie Hackett to bring this exhibition together. Watch this Facebook Live video to learn more.

Don’t miss Photography: First World War, 1914–1918, now open at the AGO as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

A second rotation of photographs will open on November 10, just ahead of Remembrance Day, and will be on view until April 14, 2019.

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