Art and Photography- A Theory

For this blog, my topic focused primarily on art and photography during the Civil War and the ways in which the war affected it, and vice versa. I explored specifically the development of realism during this time period and how that helped change the public’s opinion of the war. For example, much of my research was spent finding information on how photography and paintings depicted the war for what it really was: a bloody massacre rooted in human rights atrocities. The most compelling piece of evidence I found was in the photographs put out by Matthew Brady. He was a pioneer in the field of photography, and he was the first person to ever photograph the war explicitly and then distribute the photographs to the public. His photographs were therefore the catalysts for changing the tide of the war opinion, from patriotic to repulsion, and it was because of him and his photos that the Civil War went down in history as the most bloody and severe war, and exposed the South’s faults indisputably. Therefore, it is because of these breakthroughs in art and photography that birthed the form of photojournalism and modern art that exists today.


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Before starting my research, I never knew just how significant art and photography was during this time.  It was through this topic and project that I was able to develop my theory that without the prevalence and use of art during this time, not only would the war have continued for longer than it did, but also the South would not have been exposed in the way that it was. The changes that occurred from the war would have been less momentous in historical importance and it is very likely that African Americans would have remained dehumanized for much longer than they did.


2 thoughts on “Art and Photography- A Theory

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  1. I love this! Your topic is so interesting and so important. Much of the history that we remember today stems from photographs taken during the time of the civil war. Photography is SO important in our understanding of history. I have really enjoyed reading your blog post.


    1. Thank you! And I totally agree. Without visual evidence, all of the severity of the war (and any major historical event really) would be lost. It’s so much more moving emotionally to actually see what’s going on rather than hear/read about it.


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