Painters at war

Some paid the highest price to fulfill their duty 

to their country.

Some paid the highest price to fulfill their duty to their country.

The last one will surprise you!

An inflatable tank

Ellsworth Kelly

American painter Ellsworth Kelly served in a deception unit called “The Ghost Army” during World War II. They used inflatable tanks and trucks to mislead the Axis forces about the direction of Allied Forces. He also served in a camouflage battalion that employed many other artists.

After the war, he used the G.I. Bill (a law that provided a range of benefits for returning war veterans) to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston .

Ellsworth Kelly

American painter Ellsworth Kelly served in a deception unit called “The Ghost Army” during World War II. They used inflatable tanks and trucks to mislead the Axis forces about the direction of Allied Forces. He also served in a camouflage battalion that employed many other artists.

After the war, he used the G.I. Bill (a law that provided a range of benefits for returning war veterans) to study at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston .

Franz Marc in 1910

Franz Marc

Expressionist painter Franz Marc enlisted in the German Army at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. He enlisted as a cavalryman, but moved to a military camouflage unit , where he painted canvas covers to hide artillery from aerial observation . Working in a pointillist style, he created series of tarpaulin covers in styles varying "from Manet to Kandinsky " . The latter would be most effective against aircraft flying at 2,000 meters or higher. 

He died during the Battle of Verdun in 1916 , after being struck in the head by a shell splinter.

Franz Marc

Expressionist painter Franz Marc enlisted in the German Army at the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. He enlisted as a cavalryman, but moved to a military camouflage unit , where he painted canvas covers to hide artillery from aerial observation . Working in a pointillist style, he created series of tarpaulin covers in styles varying "from Manet to Kandinsky " . The latter would be most effective against aircraft flying at 2,000 meters or higher. 

He died during the Battle of Verdun in 1916 , after being struck in the head by a shell splinter.

Paul Klee as a soldier in 1916

Paul Klee

Swiss-German painter Paul Klee was conscripted in 1916 as a soldier of the reserve forces in Prussia (Imperial Germany). He was assigned to aircraft maintenance where he was involved in restoring aircraft camouflage . He continued painting during the entire war and he exhibited in several shows .

Paul Klee

Swiss-German painter Paul Klee was conscripted in 1916 as a soldier of the reserve forces in Prussia (Imperial Germany). He was assigned to aircraft maintenance where he was involved in restoring aircraft camouflage . He continued painting during the entire war and he exhibited in several shows .

Soldiers Playing Cards, 1917

Fernand Léger

“Soldiers playing cards” by Fernand Léger was inspired by card-playing soldiers from his time in military service during the First World War. Léger made this painting while convalescing in Paris after a poison gas attack.

Fernand Léger

“Soldiers playing cards” by Fernand Léger was inspired by card-playing soldiers from his time in military service during the First World War. Léger made this painting while convalescing in Paris after a poison gas attack.

Self-Portrait as a Soldier, 1915

Ernst Ludwig Kirchne

Perhaps not initially apparent, the soldier in this painting has a severed hand . The soldier is in fact Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The painter depicted himself in this “Self-Portrait as a Soldier”. Although Kirchner volunteered for military service in September 1914, he was a reluctant soldier who became preoccupied with avoiding service .

Ernst Ludwig Kirchne

Perhaps not initially apparent, the soldier in this painting has a severed hand . The soldier is in fact Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. The painter depicted himself in this “Self-Portrait as a Soldier”. Although Kirchner volunteered for military service in September 1914, he was a reluctant soldier who became preoccupied with avoiding service .

Russian Prisoner of War (Grigori Kladjishul) , 1916

Egon Schiele

In 1915, only three days after his wedding, Egon Schiele was ordered to report for active service in the army. The Austrian painter became a clerk in a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp. Schiele was allowed to paint and sketch imprisoned Russian officers. His commander gave him access to a store room he used as a studio . Despite his military service, Schiele continued to exhibit in Berlin .

Egon Schiele

In 1915, only three days after his wedding, Egon Schiele was ordered to report for active service in the army. The Austrian painter became a clerk in a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp. Schiele was allowed to paint and sketch imprisoned Russian officers. His commander gave him access to a store room he used as a studio . Despite his military service, Schiele continued to exhibit in Berlin .

Frédéric Bazille in 1870

Frédéric Bazille

French Impressionist painter Frédéric Bazille joined a Zouave regiment in August 1870, a month after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War . On November 28 of that year, he was with his unit at the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande when, his officer having been injured, he took command and led an assault on the German position. He was hit twice in the failed attack and died on the battlefield at the age of twenty-eight . His father travelled to the battlefield a few days later to take his body back for burial at Montpellier.

Frédéric Bazille

French Impressionist painter Frédéric Bazille joined a Zouave regiment in August 1870, a month after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War . On November 28 of that year, he was with his unit at the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande when, his officer having been injured, he took command and led an assault on the German position. He was hit twice in the failed attack and died on the battlefield at the age of twenty-eight . His father travelled to the battlefield a few days later to take his body back for burial at Montpellier.

Bob Ross

Bob Ross

In 1961, 18-year-old Bob Ross enlisted in the  United States Air Force . He rose to the rank of master sergeant and served at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska , where he first saw the snow and mountains that later appear as r ecurring themes in his paintings . He developed his quick painting technique during brief daily work breaks.  Having held military positions that required him to act tough and mean , "the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work", Ross decided he would not raise his voice when he left the military .

Bob Ross

In 1961, 18-year-old Bob Ross enlisted in the  United States Air Force . He rose to the rank of master sergeant and served at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska , where he first saw the snow and mountains that later appear as r ecurring themes in his paintings . He developed his quick painting technique during brief daily work breaks.  Having held military positions that required him to act tough and mean , "the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work", Ross decided he would not raise his voice when he left the military .

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