The number of casualties, the carnage and destruction, the area of irredeemable collapse – these were on an even vaster scale in the First World War than in the second, and that first Materialschlacht, the battle of technology and equipment, was unprecedented. In the surrounding disintegration of hopes and values, art, and especially modern art, emerged as a new value. We are too accustomed to see the modernist movements of the 1920’s – futurism, Dadaism, surrealism – as part of the nihilism and cultural despair engendered by the war. In their way, these movements were trying to save what they could.
- Sidney Monas