After the Execution (Après l'exécution), cover of Le Mot, vol. 1, no. 5, January 9, 1915
Written by Paul Iribe (French, Angoulême 1883–1935 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin)
Paul Iribe (French, Angoulême 1883–1935 Roquebrune-Cap-Martin)
Color woodcut and letterpress
Overall: 16 7/16 x 11 x 3/16 in. (41.8 x 28 x 0.5 cm)
Gift of Lincoln Kirstein, 1969
Not on view
Le Mot, a wartime French literary and artistic journal published by Jean Cocteau and Paul Iribe, was characterized by a restrained modernism and a fiercely nationalistic, anti-German perspective. This cover shows a German officer with a smoking gun, his face distorted as he screams at and hovers over the body of a young boy he has killed. Subtitled "an era without pity," the work refers to heinous acts committed by the German army as they invaded Belgium—a neutral country—and northern France in August 1914. Reports of the brutal treatment of noncombatants (such as mass executions that included women, small children, and the elderly) and damage to towns and cultural centers shocked the public, leading to a characterization, particularly within France, of the German soldiers as destructive and uncivilized "huns" particularly within wartime propaganda.