Urban Adventures

The faceless city - 1918

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson's ‘From an Office Window’ 

'From an Office Window', 1918
Artist: Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson
© Victoria and Albert Museum. Museum number E.2972-1962

Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson served as an official war artist during World War I, producing stark pictures of soldiers in trench warfare, workers in the factories and pilots' daring feats in the air. After the war he captured the clash of technology and man in the city in a series of prints.

This print, 'From an Office Window', was created with a type of impressing called mezzotint. A steel plate is given surface textures that hold different amounts of ink, printing a range of shades of the same colour. Despite the early influence of Futurism – the embrace of the machine, speed and modernity – here, Nevinson prints the dark image of faceless buildings and chimneys belching smoke on the horizon, capturing the grittiness of the city.

Many architects and town planners viewed the crowded cities as dangerous and disordered places, perceptions that only heightened the attraction of suburban garden city principles in Britain.


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