Christine Metz Howard
KU News Service

Thousands of World War I era art pieces gifted to Spencer Museum of Art

Fri, 05/09/2014

LAWRENCE – One of the richest collections of World War I era art in the country can now be found at the University of Kansas’ Spencer Art Museum through Professor Eric G. Carlson’s gift of more than 3,000 pieces.

Preceding the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the contribution includes work that largely spans from 1914 to 1918 and focuses on graphic arts produced in France. A longtime friend of the museum, Carlson studied at Yale University, taught art history at Harvard University, Swarthmore College and most extensively at SUNY Purchase, and is a longstanding member of the International Fine Print Dealers Association.

“This gift puts us in a very special position within art museums in the United States,” said Stephen Goddard, a senior curator at the art museum who has spent more than a decade acquiring work from the World War I era. “Anyone studying the imagery of the First World War will want to visit the area to take advantage of our holdings and those at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City.”

Carlson’s gift expands on the Spencer’s already significant collection of World War I art, some of which was featured in the 2010 exhibition, “Machine in a Void: World War I & the Graphic Arts.” The museum is currently showing a portion of that collection in “Conversations XVIII: World War I.”

The contribution points to the staggering amount of graphic art that was produced during World War I. While many of the posters are well-known, the collection includes less familiar portfolios of etchings, woodcuts and lithographs, as well as illustrated books, single-sheet prints and drawings. While the donation consists primarily of graphic art, it also includes paintings, textiles and decorative arts. The art will be incorporated into curricula across multiple departments at KU.

“The remarkable events of World War I touch almost every discipline imaginable. This collection will greatly expand what we can offer our university audience. The gift also has considerable research potential with many important works that are unique, unknown or little known,” Goddard said.

Not all the art created during the World War I era was propaganda or served nationalistic purposes, some of it speaks to the horrific nature of war and the dramatic change in warfare in the early part of the 20th century.

“A significant amount of the imagery produced expressed grave doubt about the war effort or focused on the human toll, the plight of the ‘war horses,’ and the devastating aspects of mechanized war,” Goddard said.

Of the more than 200 artists included in the gift some of the most notable are Guy Arnoux, Eduardo García Benito, Georges d’Ostoya, André Devambez, Raoul Dufy, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, René Georges Hermann-Paul, Emile Laboureur, Auguste-Louis Lepère, Maximilien Luce, Jean-Louis Forain, Louis Raemaekers, Pierre Roche, Théophile Alexandre Steinlen, and Jean Veber.

Among the collection’s highlights are:

 • Félix Vallotton’s portfolio of wood cuts from “C’est la guerre!” (This is War!)

• More than 60 watercolor paintings from infantryman and artist Maurice Le Poitevin

•  A group of Camille Bellanger’s panoramic landscape drawings

• Paintings by André Devambez

• Muirhead Bone’s “Building Ships” portfolio

• Artist and wartime nurse Olga Bing’s portfolio reproducing drawings of medical treatments.

The art museum is seeking grant funding to process, photograph and catalog the gift. Once finished, the collection will be shared through exhibitions, incorporated into the KU curriculum and made available for research.

Images available upon request.

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Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

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Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.

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