The Art of War: Army Artists on the Battlefield
Not all soldiers fight with weapons. In World War II, some fought with pencils, brushes, and sketch pads. Join Museum Vice President of Education and Access Colonel (Ret) Peter Crean as he explores the US Army Combat Artist Program from its origin in World War I to the visual record Army artists created during World War II, and the evolution into the Army Staff Artist Program of today.
When America entered World War I, the War Department created the Division of Pictorial Publicity and selected eight artists to document the American Expeditionary Forces in action and at rest. Those initial eight artists created a legacy of soldier art that stretches to this day. In World War II, the Army revived the art program and tasked its artists with “express(ing) in your paintings significant and dramatic phases of the conflict, to the end that the results may have a deep meaning for generations to come.” The artists, both soldier and civilian, created more than 5,000 works by the war’s end. The inspiration and imagination of the artists captured the emotions of war—fear, boredom, excitement, comedy—in a way no camera ever could.