artists & participants
Stanford, California—As society copes with conflicts ranging from the global to personal, the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University examines how artists in many cultures and eras have interpreted the harsh realities of conflict through objects and images that are aesthetically satisfying. The exhibition Conflict and Art, on view June 7 through August 27, 2006, surveys a spectrum of artists' responses to conflicts from war to solitary quests.
Selections from the Cantor Arts Center collections bring together art from Europe, North America, Africa, and Asia for this exhibition. Conflict and Art challenges curators to present diverse works in a new context to address common themes. The exhibition's broad thematic headings range from societal, religious, and political struggles, with their associated wars, to more individualistic competitions and internal dialogues, often eloquently drawn from legend or literature: Political and social changes are reflected in art, including issues stemming from the rise of democracy, advances in science, and the growing awareness of societal ills.
War and its consequences have provided compelling subjects for artists throughout history. The abundance of objects used in war and works commemorating victory and valor indicate the primacy of war-related activity by virtually every culture. Legend and literature, particularly scenarios and plots fraught with conflict, have long inspirited artists. Beliefs worldwide have fueled the fervor of spiritual practitioners and imagination of artists. Competitive sports, while positive and possibly a sublimating aspect of conflict, provide scenes of duels, bullfights, wrestling, and boxing. Individual questsreflect the “human condition,” with conflict and resolution, overcoming pitfalls, and seeking harmony. Artists have portrayed such internal conflicts, often their own, in many forms.
Conflict and Art presents works spanning six centuries by unknown makers to acclaimed artists, including Robert Arneson, Albrecht Dürer, Théodore Gericault, Francisco Goya, Käthe Kollwitz, Eadweard Muybridge, Auguste Rodin, Pablo Picasso, Masami Teraoka, Andy Warhol, and Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Their works are juxtaposed with such objects as an African ritual figure, an American Indian knife sheath, a shield from Borneo, and a Japanese samurai’s sword. These cross-cultural comparisons are intended to elucidate the complexity and relevance of this subject.