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Bill Brandt

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Unscene

The inspiration of Italian cinema

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Hyperlynx

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Romney - mirroring the gentry

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Earth & fire

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Sarah Medway: In the Realm of the Senses

A glimpse of the Hermitage

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Paul Signac: Travels in France

The other story of British abstract art

Breaking the silence

Century City

Digitising the Hermitage

Ghosts of christmas past

The disasters of war

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Picasso as political icon

An art world Schindler

British modernism reclaimed

Brush Power

The modern bronze age

The first museum of modern art

Six women who shook the world

Frances Aviva Blane

Caro's challenge

Ellsworth Kelly at the Tate

Magnum resists the lure of the dollar

Rebel behind the American movement

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The disasters of war

The horror of war on the European continent was recorded by three different men who lived centuries apart. They had no cameras, videos or film, but the devastation and suffering they set down on small pieces of paper is only too close to the present.

Jacques Callot saw the reality of the Thirty Years War which broke out in 1621. It turned his native land of Lorraine from one of the wealthiest areas of Europe into one of starvation and famine. Callot published his Large Miseries of War in Paris in 1633 and they rapidly became collectors' items. Callot set the barbaric shootings and torture of his day into an epic social history, involving hundreds of troops and onlookers.

The Spanish artist, Francisco Goya's Disasters of War confront the bestiality of man to man up front and without blinking. In his day, it was the Napoleonic troops who inflicted barbaric shootings on the people of Spain. Goya, however, not only showed the suffering, but also the powerful resistance of the people of Spain, including women.

Goya saw the devastation of the city of Saragossa by the French forces. He was in Madrid during the year of a famine when 20,000 people died of starvation. He made 82 etchings about the war, but they were never published in his lifetime.

Otto Dix was the only one of these three artists who actually served as a soldier. His series called Der Krieg (War) depicts the mass killings on the Front in World War II. He was haunted by his experience for a long time afterwards. In these images Dix reveals the harrowing effect of war on the individual soldier. Thousands of copies of a cheaper selection of the prints were sold during the 1920s in Weimar Germany.

The German trade unions alone ordered 1,500 copies. As John Willett writes in the book accompanying the exhibition, has anything happened since then to make Dix's pictures irrelevant today?

This review first appeared in Socialist Future