The artist Sandow Birk is completing 15 large woodblock prints about the war in Iraq. Based on a series of small etchings by the French artist Jacques Callot (1592–1635) called “The Miseries of War,” which in turn inspired Goya’s “The Disasters of War” some 200 years later, Birk’s series is titled “The Depravities of War.”
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The prints include “scenes of people signing up for the Army,” says Birk, “going to boot camp, training, flying off to war, the invasion, scenes leading up to Abu Ghraib and the Senate hearings, and ultimately to the execution of Saddam Hussein.”
In addition to the prints, Birk has made a number of paintings, including The Liberation of Baghdad, seen here. The paintings are more satirical and ironic, and many are based on paintings of the glories of war in Napoleon’s time and from Russian socialist images of battlefield glories.
The Liberation of Baghdad, says Birk, is about “what we were told would happen — happy, joyfully liberated Iraqis welcoming American troops as we free them from the shackles of oppression.”
An exhibition of “The Depravities of War” will open at the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco in the fall, before traveling to other institutions. The prints will also be published in book form by HuiPress.