Graffiti artists might regard themselves as modern, but the act of drawing and writing on surfaces in public places is not a new idea. The editor of this book collected 600 examples of graffiti from soldiers in World War One. Here we can see railway carriages that transported soldiers to the front covered in chalk graffiti.
Modern studies suggest young people graffiti for several reasons, including artistic improvement, escape from everyday life, pleasure, fame and for a group thrill. We may not know who the soldiers were that created these inscriptions during the war, but we can imagine why they created them. Apart from the nationalistic war enthusiasm, it might have been a way to detract from what was waiting for them at the Front. Their feelings of hatred for and superiority over the enemy, and their wish to overcome danger as a team, can certainly be seen in these inscriptions.
TranscriptHave a good trip to the front!
600 humorous inscriptions in railway carriages
Collected by Kurt Ahnert-Nürnberg during mobilisation.
With four art prints
- Article by:
- Paul Cornish
- Life as a soldier, The war machine, Race, empire and colonial troops
With focus on the routines of work, rest and recreation, Senior Curator Paul Cornish describes the typical daily life experienced by soldiers in World War One.