Germany 1891 – 1969
Lens wird mit Bomben belegt [Lens being bombed], plate 33 from Der Krieg
1924 Description: plate 33 from the portfolio Der Krieg [War], a portfolio of 50 prints in 5 parts, plus 1 additional print
Place made: Berlin, Germany
Materials & Technique: prints, Intaglio etching and drypoint, printed in black ink. Support: BSB-Maschinen-Butten
Manufacturer's Mark: BSB
Edition: ed 58/70
Publisher: VERLAG KARL NIERENDORF
Place Published: Berlin
Date Published: 1924
This dynamic composition gives an overwhelming sense of the terrifying reality of the actual moment the town of Lens in northern France was bombed.
We are drawn into the image by the street's multiple receding lines. In the foreground, the faces of the fleeing civilians are distorted by fear and grief. Their hollow eyes echo the empty, boarded-up windows of the houses they desert. In the background, these figures are reduced to dark fugitive shapes trapped by the dramatic, vortex-like perspective.
The bomber is rendered in a sketchy, childlike way that seems at odds with its menacing purpose. One can almost hear the noise and feel the panic it creates. Its shadow ominously divides the two groups of people, while the endless facades of the buildings stretching into the horizon from left and right create a narrowing tunnel from which the citizens of Lens seem unable to escape.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra