Fragments of the Great War, 1914-18 William Lewis

William A. Lewis
Professor Emeritus
Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design
University of Michigan

An Explanatory Word

"This presentation is a display of drawings and paintings based on images of the Great War of 1914-1918 -- the First World War. I only know about it through the eyes of others and their words. I have, however, known about the basic imagery all my life.

Some of my relationship to this war was personal – the letters, books, and collections of four uncles and my father, the experiences and records of these uncles in service in Europe and Britain, and their post-war lives – all give rise to this project. I have seen many photos and read the history of their times and read their personal letters. Since childhood, the images have been with me. Fascination? Yes. Revulsion? That, too. I knew more than enough of the effects of the war on the lives of these veterans.

The art work does not purport to be a closely-fashioned history of the First War. These are scattered visualizations and even abstractions derived from what I think I understand about given events, places, and people. Some things have deeply touched me:

Ypres: I studied it and have been there.
Jutland: I have my father’s sketch maps of the action. How or when he did them I know not. He had been in the US Navy, and he studied the War. Books and photos of Jutland were always present in our house. The Invasion of Belgium: Reading of it in my youth shocked me. It still does. A civilized nation deliberately did that and in another generation repeated the act.

This entire collection probably never can be completed. Trying to be coherent is enough trouble. The term “fragments” seems proper for the title. I have to stop somewhere. Time is short."

Link to William Lewis' Artist Page
Click here to read Artist's Bio


a note from the gallery…

River Gallery is pleased to share with you a preview of an exhibit of original artwork created by William Lewis as a commemorative visual narrative of the Great War. This preview is an online display of a sample of works from a collection of over 40 original artworks. River Gallery is currently engaged in energetic research to find a scholar that may be interested in working with Mr. Lewis to create a curatorial statement and historical commentary to accompany the artwork prior to producing an exhibition.

River Gallery will keep you posted about our progress as we work diligently to get this body of work into a cohesive exhibit which will then be offered for public viewing during the 100 year anniversary of World War I.