All the Evils…Christian Petersen and the Art of War
by Lea Rosson DeLong
with contributions by Elizabeth Hoffman and Lynette L. Pohlman
215 pages, 8 x 10 inches
The wars of the twentieth century, their losses, and their toll on humanity are a frequent and important theme in the work of Christian Petersen. Though he is often known as “the gentle sculptor,” Petersen gave much attention to the subject of warfare. To some extent, his entire life might be said to be based on a reaction to war since it was avoidance of the German military that prompted his family to emigrate from Denmark in 1893. Petersen lived through World War I, and sculpture on this theme constituted some of his earliest and most successful commissions. When World War II erupted, Petersen had been sculptor-in-residence at Iowa State for seven years, and its effect on college-age students was something he felt strongly. His work of the war years expresses the sacrifice and tragedy of the global fight. The theme continued to be important in the post-war years when he designed a number of proposals for war memorials, all of which focused not on victory, but on the sorrow and loss of war. By the late 1940s, his strong sentiments began to combine with his religious life after he joined the Catholic Church. It seems he often portrayed Christ as the victim of mankind’s warring ways.
This book was published in conjunction with the exhibition All the Evils…Christian Petersen and the Art of War (August 24, 2009 through February 26, 2010), presented by the Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums at Iowa State University.
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