Pulitzer Prize–winning art and architecture critic Philip Kennicott presents “World War I: An Inconsistent Memory?” for the Amon Carter Lecture. The aesthetics, purpose, and politics of memorialization has changed radically since the First World War, when Americans deployed a wild diversity of monuments small and large to honor the more than 100,000 dead. From mass-produced statues to the reconfiguration of whole urban districts, the aftermath of the First World War introduced the basic conflicts that still dog the designers of memorials today, conflicts between representation and abstraction, individual memory and collective loss, and fundamental disagreements about the necessity and desirability of memorials in a fluid, democratic culture. This talk examines how those conflicts played out on the nation’s most symbolically contested landscape, the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where today the First World War is almost an afterthought, lost in the grandiose clutter of other wars, and other strategies for preserving memory.
Kennicott is the art and architecture critic for The Washington Post. He is also a contributing editor at The New Republic, a reviewer for Gramophone, and a regular contributor to Opera News. The lecture is organized in conjunction with the Ransom Center’s current exhibition The World at War, 1914–1918, on view through August 3.
The program is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome. Seating is first-come, first-served, and doors open at 6:30 p.m. Guild and Director’s Circle members are invited to a private wine reception with Kennicott prior to the lecture. Invitation-only: RSVP required. Join or upgrade your membership. Attendees may enter to win a signed copy of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, a DVD of the documentary WWI: The War to End All Wars, and a set of exhibition postcards.
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