The First World Conflict

In the centenary of the First World War, "An Epochal War" - composed of about 60/100 images from English, French, German, American and Italian  archives - does not aim to tell from the historical and academic point of view all the war events which took place between 1914 and 1918. Of course, there are references to the most important facts. But the goal is another: to immerse the spectator in the tragic, incredible and epochal atmosphere of that war.


Tragic: because it cost the death of millions and millions of men - an entire generation was wiped out by machine guns and bombs in crazy frontal assaults. Incredible: because it was a senseless war in which not only the losing central empires (the German and Austrian) but also the winning European powers committed suicide in the moment of maximum splendor, making coincide he end of the conflict with the beginning of their decline. Epochal: because the Great War closed an era, the modern one, and opened a completely new one, the contemporary one. In fact, after the First World War, the world will never be the same again.


The First World War, a moment of passage in history, has something magical from an iconographic and aesthetic point of view. Added to the classic nineteenth-century suggestions of the Belle Époque there are those of the twentieth century, all projected  towards futurism and the futuristic more than towards the future. The synthesis is an aesthetic mixture of rare iconographic power captured perfectly by the instrument of photography, which since its birth, in the mid-nineteenth century, has made great strides both from a technical and artistic point of view.


Not only at the time of the First World War the photo-reportage has already established itself but it has also reached remarkable levels of professionalism. The illustrated newspapers in fact use it extensively from the end of the 1800. In all Western countries, peculiar photographic styles and different methods of publishing images are developed. But although the quality of the photos in circulation is undoubtedly remarkable, there are few authors whose name is known. The exhibition also pays tribute to them, anonymous and talented reporters of everyone's history.


Curated by:

Alessandro Luigi Perna


A production of:

EFF&CI - Facciamo Cose (We Do Things)


Pictures of:

Heritage / AGF

Mary Evans / AGF

Süddeutsche Zeitung / AGF

Rue des Archives / Bridgemann

S.S.P.L. - Science & Society Picture Library


U.S. N.A.R.A.

Various Authors

background photo of the page © S.S.P.L. - Science & Society Picture Library