Horreur de la Guerre: Femme Supliciée, 1954
Graphite on Paper Mounted on Canvas
45 ⅝ x 35 in.
In his profound and bleak series Horreur de la Guerre (Horrors of the War), Bernard Buffet captured grotesque scenes of war, death and agony using a very limited palette and impassioned etching. This large piece, Femme Supliciée depicts a torture victim from Nazi occupied Paris during the second World War. She stands, presumably chained to a pole, with her arms behind her back. Her head rolls to her shoulder in a defeated stance, her eyes are barely open with only the whites exposed and her mouth hangs limply agape. Sharp, quick pencil strokes graze her exposed body in a counterclockwise rhythm and could represent welts or dirt. Buffet etches a shadow close to the body of the figure in a rigid grid like pattern, encasing the woman in her own suffering. This visceral and poignant work allows for an alternate discussion around war, one that doesn’t revolve around victory and splendor but the histories lost with the defeated.