I’ve written before about combat artists, soldiers called on (or inspired to) record their experiences in combat and in other aspects of a soldier’s life.
Starting in World War I, the U.S. Army had a program of officially designated combat artists. Remarkably, they were told to record their experiences directly as they saw them, and not reserved or slanted as nationalistic propaganda.
That principle seems to have been adhered to over the years, so we get to see soldiers’ lives through their own eyes, largely unaltered by the otherwise expected filters of military bureaucracy and politicians.
The Army has a collection of hundreds of works, spanning generations of artists, that its curator calls “the most famous collection no one’s ever heard of”.
The online preview is arranged along a horizontally scrolling 100 year timeline, from WWI to the present day. You can hover your mouse over individual images for brief credits, and click for more detailed information and larger view, that can in turn be clicked on for a larger image.
Art of the American Soldier is on view until January 10, 2011.
(Images above: George Harding, Lester G. Hornby, Franklin Boggs, Howard Brodie, Paul MacWilliams, Frank M. Thomas, Sieger Hartgers, Peter G. Varisano, Elzie Golden)