In 1914, men marched off in a rush of euphoria to join the fighting in World War I. They were following an ideal of masculinity that would be torn to pieces in a blaze of automatic gunfire. The ideal of the glorious knight turned out to be a cruel mirage.
In 1940, General Guisan stood on the battlefield and called for resistance. Meanwhile, French internees wanted to sing the Marseillaise. Yet again, women were responsible for their welfare. ‘Allons les femmes de la patrie.’
Two German painters, contemporaries, reacted to the ‘age of catastrophe’ of 1914-1945 in very different ways. One painted a harsh and objective depiction of the world he saw. The other persisted in a rural idyll. Both approaches are political.