The 1914 war as a subject in art was not only the object of enthusiastic representations and displays of support by the avant-garde. It also gave rise to visions of human terror and degradation. Such depictions, endowed with markedly grotesque features, dominate the work of some of the German Expressionists such as Erich Heckel, Lyonel Feininger, George Grosz and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The section entitled The Stigma of Damnation presents a group of works by these artists executed around 1915-1916. Dark, gloomy scenes and what we might term allegorical condemnations, such as George Grosz’s Metropolis
, acquire the character of an angry response to the reality of the war. This is a type of painting that does not take its motifs directly from the reality of the war but which draws on themes that echo its terrible course. Over and again these artists portray the human being with a pitiless pathos, not so much as an agent of the war but as a collateral effect, a ruined being subject to the whim of murder and desolation.