VE Day 75: Digital Stories

8 May 2020 marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War in Europe. Aesthetica selects online arts, photography and history resources to explore at home this VE (Victory in Europe) Day.

Imperial War Museums

IWM releases a series of new art commissions that respond to the end of WWII and its resonance today – contemplating the meaning of victory in a contemporary context. The museum’s website is also home to archive photography – charting celebrations in 1945. An exhibition hosted by Google Arts & Culture offers further insights into the historic events of 8 May, bringing together footage and still images.

Tate: War, Austerity and the Modern Spirit 1940-50

Tate St. Ives’ virtual gallery shines a light on artists working in West Cornwall during and immediately after WWII. Featured is Naum Gabo’s transparent sculpture Spiral Theme (1941), which was met with acclaim in wartime London. The show surveys 1951’s Festival of Britain, which aimed to lift the spirits of a post-war nation. It also brought exposure to now-renowned artists such as Barbara Hepworth.

English Heritage

The English Heritage website is filled with resources to explore from home. 9 Things You Should Know About VE Day offers essential information, whilst black and white photographs chart the response of England’s communities. Video interviews with veterans offer first-hand insights into the events of Dunkirk, whilst a podcast explores the history of the iconic Cenotaph – erected at the end of WWI.

Magnum Photos Archive

Magnum Photos delves into the archives, presenting striking photojournalism from 1945 to today. The slideshow documents the end of WWII in France and Germany, whilst looking at recent commemorations in Russia. There are images of crowds, celebrations and memorials – as well as shots marked with a deep sense of sadness and loss. This set of photos is a stark look at the aftermath of war.

Government Art Collection

This digital exhibition marks VE Day with artworks from the collection that illustrate themes of PeaceReconciliationNew BeginningsCelebration and Gratitude. It features a range of resonant pieces including Edmund de Waal’s metamorphosen I – a sculptural arrangement of dark objects which explores “… moments of pause or recollections of loss.” Brighter paintings highlight optimism and a sense of renewal.

Lead image: Ground crew on a RAF Bomber Command station in Britain return the V-sign to a neighbouring searchlight crew. © IWM (CH 15165).

Posted on 8 May 2020


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