More than 15,000 paintings and sketches created by over 1,300 American soldiers in the line of duty have been in curatorial storage in Washington, D.C. for decades, seldom made available for public viewing. Art of the American Soldier will bring these powerful works of art into the spotlight at the National Constitution Center from September 24, 2010 through January 10, 2011. The exhibition, featuring a never-before-seen collection, was created by the Center in partnership with the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the National Museum of the United States Army. Following its world debut at the Center, the exhibition will begin a national tour.
Army Art Program History
The U.S. Armys art program began during World War I, and continued through World War II, resulting in the creation of over 2,000 pieces of art. In 1945, the Army established its Historical Division, with responsibilities including the preservation of these works. The collection also includes artwork by artists who were sent to document the Vietnam War, as well as works from soldier-artists who are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Despite its impressive collection, the Army is the only United States armed service without a national museum. The Army Historical Foundation, in partnership with the U.S. Army, is currently spearheading a campaign to create the National Museum of the United States Army.
This highly important collection, never before on public exhibit, portrays the spirit of Americas sons and daughters who have answered the call to defend our Nation, said Colonel (ret) Robert J. Dalessandro, Assistant Chief of Military History, Center of Military History.
The National Constitution Center is proud to make this remarkable collection available to the public for the first time. Though this visual record is familiar to few, it is no less powerful in its ability to convey and evoke the human experience of military conflict, said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner. These first-hand expressions of the realities of war uniquely and vividly trace the lives of the brave men and women who have answered the Constitutions call to provide for the common defense.
Covering over 6,000 square feet and featuring more than 250 works of art in a variety of mediums, the exhibition celebrates the creative spirit of the American soldier and unveils unforgettable images that offer intimate, first-hand insight into the soldier experience. The artwork, spanning from World War I to the present, is organized into five sections Introduction, A Soldiers Life, A Soldiers Duty, A Soldiers Sacrifice, and The American Soldier and captures the everyday lives of American soldiers, from deployment and camp life to the battlefield, telling their stories in a way no newsreel or photograph ever could.
In 1919, World War I soldier-artist J. Andre Smith said, When a war poses for its picture, it leaves to the artist the selection of the attitude in which the artist may desire to draw it. And this attitude is the artists point of view circumscribed by the boundaries of his ability and the nature of the work for which his training and practice have fitted him.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the National Constitution Center will also launch a special online gallery where veterans from all branches of the Armed Forces can submit artwork that reflects their time of service. The site will launch in July at www.constitutioncenter.org
, and selected works from the online gallery will be displayed inside the Art of the American Soldier exhibition.