Institut für Kunstgeschichte



Behind the Mask



Dienstag, 14. Oktober 2014, 18 Uhr c.t., Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Raum 007


David M. Lubin (Wake Forest University)
"Behind the Mask: WWI, Plastic Surgery, and the Modern Beauty Revolution"


During the Great War, trenches exposed combatants’ faces to sniper fire and flying shrapnel. In previous wars, men who sustained such wounds would have died from them. Now their lives could be saved, but often at the cost of psychic well-being. Postwar society was flooded with abject faces that medical intervention had not been capable of repairing. This lecture considers the efforts of surgeons to restore obliterated faces, sculptors to fashion facial prostheses, pacifists to shock the public with the otherness of the severely disfigured, modern artists to embrace the mask aesthetic, and entrepreneurs to capitalize on a cult of physical beauty that arose in reaction to wartime ugliness.

David Lubin, the Charlotte C. Weber Professor of Art at Wake Forest University, is the author of Act of Portrayal (1985), Picturing a Nation (1994), Titanic (1999), and Shooting Kennedy (2003), which was awarded the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Eldredge Prize for distinguished scholarship in American art. Lubin’s forthcoming books are Flags and Faces: The Visual Culture of America’s First World War (University of California Press, 2015) and Grand Illusions: WWI and American Art (Oxford University Press, 2016).