“Soldier, Spectre, Shaman: The Figure and the Second World War” at The Museum of Modern Art

October 24, 2015–March 20, 2016

The Paul J. Sachs Drawing Galleries, third floor

The years surrounding World War II posed a creative and existential crisis, as artists struggled to respond to human, social, and cultural conditions in the wake of the horrors of combat, images of concentration camps, and the aftermath of the atomic bomb. Drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection, Soldier, Spectre, Shaman presents a range of artistic responses focused on the human figure, with the body serving as subject and object, mirror and metaphor.

Jean Fautrier (French, 1898-1964). Hostages Black Ground (Otages fond noir). 1944-47 (printed c. 1962). Etching, relief printed. Plate: 9 1/2 x 12 9/16″ (23.5 x 31.9 cm); sheet: 14 7/8 x 21 15/16″ (37.8 x 55.8 cm). Publisher: Édition Couturier, Paris. Printer: Jacques David, Paris. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Arthur B. Stanton Fund © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Jean Fautrier (French, 1898-1964). Hostages Black Ground (Otages fond noir). 1944-47 (printed c. 1962). Etching, relief printed. Plate: 9 1/2 x 12 9/16″ (23.5 x 31.9 cm); sheet: 14 7/8 x 21 15/16″ (37.8 x 55.8 cm). Publisher: Édition Couturier, Paris. Printer: Jacques David, Paris. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Arthur B. Stanton Fund © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The exhibition features work in a variety of mediums by more than 30 international artists, including prints by David Smith and Chimei Hamada that confront the visceral realities of the battlefield landscape; Alberto Giacometti’s and Louise Bourgeois’s sculptures of spectral, shadowed, or dissolving bodies; Shomei Tomatsu’s post-atomic bomb photographs; and visions of mystical, divine, or otherworldly forms by Henri Michaux, Henry Darger, and Jeanne Reynal.

Shomei Tomatsu (Japanese, 1930-2012). Hibakusha Tomitarō Shimotani, Nagasaki. 1961. Gelatin silver print, 13 × 18 3/4″ (33 × 47.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist © 2015 Shomei Tomatsu

Shomei Tomatsu (Japanese, 1930-2012). Hibakusha Tomitarō Shimotani, Nagasaki. 1961. Gelatin silver print, 13 × 18 3/4″ (33 × 47.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the artist © 2015 Shomei Tomatsu

Organized by Lucy Gallun, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography, and Sarah Suzuki, Associate Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints.