The Apocalypse: War and the Machine, Gertrude Barrer (Abstract Expressionism 1949)

Posted by Benji, Michael, and Weston , Wednesday, May 19, 2010 6:16 AM

This painting contains many elements that can be interpreted in different ways due to the style of the art: Abstract Expressionism. When first examining the work of art, it can be observed that there is an overwhelming clash of color and chaos. Painted during 1949, this was right between the end of the Second World War and the start of the Cold War. Society had been shaken badly, and barely had enough time to recover before another conflict threatened to shake the fragile calmness in the social environment. Upon in depth analysis, we notice a river slicing through the center of the painting, which can be interpreted to represent said fragile calmness. The river appears to run along a futuristic-like metropolitan covered in an orange substance. This orange substance may represent the blood spilt during WWII. Above the river there appears to be a strange looking figure that we can only attribute to be the mutated aardvark more commonly known as Otis.
Otis the Aardvark, Evil Mastermind.
Seriously though, it looks to be some sort of manifestation of the harbinger of doom. Given the context of the era, this “aardvark harbinger thing” maybe interpreted as the Soviet Union, seeing as how the artist was American. In fact, the American view on the U.S.S.R. at the time was quite suspicious, and many Americans quite literally thought that the Soviet Union would bring an end to the world as we knew it. Not to say that the Soviet Union never had the same opinions about us. This was a time where society was plagued by two consecutive World Wars, and another conflict appeared to be right around the corner. People were quite wary, and in such a time, it doesn't seem out of place that they would feel that the continued conflict would bring the end of the world.

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