"Marines Call It That 2,000 Yard Stare" by Tom Lea, oil on canvas, 1944, Peleliu Island
It’s one of the greatest assemblages of art in America, yet most of us have never seen it. It’s the U.S. Army’s art collection, and it resides mostly in storage, comprised of thousands of pieces of art. The Army’s art program officially began in World War I, when eight artists were commissioned as captains in the Corps of Engineers, then sent to Europe to record the activities of the American Expeditionary Forces there.
Opportunities to view the art, however, occur at museums around the country; The National Museum of the United States Army at Fort Belvoir won’t be completed until 2015. Luckily, Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center is running “Art of the American Soldier” now through Jan. 11. The exhibit contains 250 works from the collection and is curated thematically.
“It’s an amazing collection, and not a lot of people know it’s here,” Sarah Forgey, its curator, told the Philadelphia Inquirer
. The current exhibition is “a good opportunity to see a wide variety of what we have. This many pieces haven’t been seen in one place in quite some time.” The museum was inspired to mount this exhibit in part by a story that aired last year
on CBS Sunday Morning.
Even if you can’t make it to the City of Brotherly Love, you can enjoy many of the pieces via an online, interactive gallery
. Military artists can even submit their own work
for inclusion online! We hope that some of you get to experience this amazing Army art opportunity and that you’ll let us know what you think. Be sure to check out the preview video below, too…