The Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey

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On Sept. 15, Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) marked the official opening of its new headquarters on Fordham’s Rose Hill campus with an art exhibit that captures the brutality and desolation of war through both print and photography. 

Horrors of War: From Goya to Nachtwey showcases the classic work of 18th-century painter Francisco de Goya y Lucientes aside modern-day photographer James Nachtwey. The work will be on display in in Canisius Hall through the end of the fall semester.

In these photographs and in the face of isolation, there is presence and compassion,” said Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham. “That is what the institute is about.”

Nachtwey said he was honored to place his photographs alongside the work of the painter Goya, who he called the “first war photographer.” Together, the works highlight both the darkness and the hope found in the tragedies of war. 

Goya’s work is from his Los desastres de la guerra [The Disasters of War] series. The series consists of  82 prints created between 1810 and 1820 showcasing the conflict between Spain and France. Seventeen out of the 82 prints were reproduced from originals that are held in The Hispanic Society Museum and Library.

Nachtwey’s work captures scenes through the eyes of humanitarian crisis workers and their subjects. Among the images in Horrors of War are a mother clutching her child amidst a debris-strewn landscape; a young woman lying in a hospital bed; and a man, who’d lost a leg in conflict, attempting to mount a surfboard.

“These are not easy to look at and yet difficult to look away from,” said IIHA Executive Director Brendan Cahill.

“A lot of times humanitarian workers are unable to process what they see on a daily basis, so these images bring their reality to life for someone who may never find themselves in that circumstance,” said Angela Wells, IIHA communications officer.

The exhibition is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

-Veronika Kero 

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