War Artists' Advisory Committee

War Artists' Advisory Committee

1939 - 1945

Remarks: http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/the-war-artists-advisory-committee http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Artists%27_Advisory_Committee
With the outbreak of the Second World War in 1913, the Ministry of Information established a Government Agency called the War Artists' Advisory Committee (WAAC), at the request of the then Director of the National Gallery, London, Sir Kenneth Clark. The WAAC conducted monthly meetings held at the National Gallery and chaired by Clark.

The brief of the committee was very straight forward: 'to draw up a list of artists qualified to record the war at home and abroad. In co-operation with the Services Departments, and other Government Departments ... to advise on the selection of artists on this list for war purposes and on the arrangements for their employment.' Any employed artists was required to produce work which would help form a comprehensive artistic and documentary historic collection, representing Britain's, and Britons', experiences throughout the war.

To a large extent, the purpose of the Committee, and any collection it formed, was propaganda. A number of art exhibitions were organised in both Britain and America, serving a dual function of raising morale among the population, and also of promoting Britain's image, and its collective war effort, abroad. Clark's generation had been marked by the deaths of many artists and writers in the First World War, and it was also hoped that by keeping artists usefully employed the scheme might prevent a new generation of British artists from being killed. However, three artists, Eric Ravilious, Thomas Hennell and Albert Richards, were killed during the Second World War.

Clark gave his personal support to an eclectic range of modern painters and became a personal patron and friend to a number of the British artists. Through direct commissions, but also through the acquisition of works offered to them, the WAAC accumulated a significant collection which covers an unparalleled range of wartime subjects at home and abroad. At the end of the war, the agency was dissolving. In just six years the WAAC had accumulated a collection consisting of 5,570 works. Over half of these works are now held by the Imperial War Museum.