Photo from http://www.pbs.org/theydrewfire/
"What makes the work thrilling, interesting and dramatic is the fact that these men have seen action in the Aleutians, the Pacific, Africa, Sicily and other theaters of war, and yet have found time to put down on canvas the things they have seen and experienced so that the people back home will receive not only a photographic point of view but an emotional and spiritual one as well." Aimee Crane (Quote from Art in the Armed Forces, 1972
"In this war there will be a greater amount than ever before of factual reporting, of photographs and moving pictures. You are not sent out merely as news gatherers. You have been selected as outstanding American artists, who will record the war in all its phases, and its impact on you as artists and as human beings. The War Department Art Advisory Committee is giving you as much latitude as possible in your method of work, whether by sketches done on the spot, sketches made from memory, or from notes taken on the spot, for it is recognized that an artist does his best work when he is not tied down by narrow technical limitations. What we insist on is the best work you are individually capable of; and the most integrated picture of war in all its phases that your group is capable of. This will require team play on your part as well as individual effort. It is suggested that you will freely discuss each other's work and assignments, always in hope of new suggestions and new enthusiasm. Any subject is in order, if as artists you feel it is part of War; battle scenes and the front line; battle landscapes; the wounded; the dying and the dead; prisoners of war; field hospitals and base hospitals; wrecked habitations and bombing scenes; character sketches of our own troops, of prisoners, of the natives of the country you visit...the tactical implements of war; embarkation and debarkation scenes; the nobility, courage, cowardice, cruelty, boredom of war...Try to omit nothing; duplicate to your heart's content. Express if you can-realistically or symbolically- the essence and spirit of War. You may be guided by Blake's mysticism, by Goya's cynicism and savagery, by Delacroix's romanticism, by Daumier's humanity and tenderness; or better still follow you own inevitable star."
Private Gustav Rehberger executed mural decorations in the Chicago area before being inducted into the Army in July of 1943. His works below were inspired by the battles waged in Germany.
In addition, the work by Corporal Robert G. Doares displays the bravery brought forth during the costly war.
Lieutenant Mitchell Jamieson depicted scenes from the military occupation of North Africa (Oran, Tunis, Bizerte) as well as documenting the action that he was apart of during the invasion of Sicily in 1943. Later, in Italy at Salerno he was aboard a destroyer surveying the action when our troops went in. His paintings comprise an explicit narrative as to what our fighting troops were encountering on these European battlefronts.
Lieutenant William F. Draper was commissioned in the U.S. Naval Reserve in June of 1942. His first assignment took him to the Aleutian Islands where he was present when the Japanese attacked Amchitka Island. Later, he landed with the second wave of Marines at Bougainville. After Bougainville he was assigned to duty on the USS Yorktown and painted a series of pieces on the first attack on Palau. Finally, he covered the invasion of Saipan and Guam aboard the USS Tennessee. His works reveal the spirit of our fighting men with their courage, heroism, and sacrifice.
Pilots at Play: Scene in a Yakutat hut, Umnak, Alaska
Major Donald L. Dickson was a member of the Marine Corps Reserve for fifteen years and served four months on Guadalcanal as a regimental adjutant. He painted what he saw and as he simply stated, "That's what I want to draw! I want to picture them just as they are-tired and dirty, rough, and sometimes scared, but with the best damned spirit in the world."
Technical Sergeant Victor P. Donahue completed his recruit training at San Diego and then went overseas with the Public Relations section of a combat unit. His keen artistic work captured the true essence of what is was to be a United States Marine during World War II.
Captain George M. Harding was designated "official artist of the American Expeditionary Forces" in World War I, but was attached to the First Marine Amphibious Corps in the South Pacific during World War II. His work was deeply respected by his fellow Marines because of its accuracy and sharp attention to detail.
Technical Sergeant Herbert H. Laidman sketched Marine life in the battle arena of the Southwest Pacific from a close and personal perspective. His artistic talents allowed him to receive a place as Combat Correspondent with a Marine Aircraft Wing.
Sergeant Ben Wolf was enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1942 and was assigned to Greenland as a combat artist, where he spent six months recording the events in that area of warfare.
CBM Hunter Wood spent time as a combat artist aboard a cutter engaged in antisubmarine duty in the waters of the North Atlantic. In addition, he was aboard a transport vessel that participated in the invasion of North Africa.
CPO Norman Millet Thomas enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1942. His works reveal to the viewer, life as it was in Greenland during World War II.
The above is a brief exploration into some of the
insightful and diverse works produced by combat artists from different
military branches during World War II. The combat artist played a
vital role in the war, documenting events and recording the details of
human sacrifice and suffering. The artists created visual documents
that may serve as both remarkable aesthetic creations as well as important
educational tools for generations to come. Capturing more than a
camera, the artworks are layered with the individual artist's perceptions,
feelings, and interpretations. Their visions were transformed to
illustrations which define the diverse range of the human situation that
was involved during this people's war.
All pictures are from the sources located on the Bibliography Page
Links for further information regarding combat artistry:
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