U.S. Marine Corps Combat Art Prints, 2006
During World War I, Colonel John W Thomason produced a series of drawings to illustrate
Fix Bayonets!, a collection of fictionalized accounts of Marines in the "Great War."
His powerful sketches laid the groundwork for the official Marine Corps Combat Art
Program that started in 1942, under the guidance of Brigadier General Robert Denig.
Under his direction, artists were deployed throughout the Pacific, "to record with the artist's eye
the great and simple doings of men at war, to picture its action, it's settings, it's tragedy, it's humor."
Major Donald L. Dickson's Guadalcanal sketches are perhaps some of the best known early works
of the war. Marine combat art soon appeared in newspapers and magazines-Fortune, Saturday
Review of Literature,New York Times Sunday Magazine. Original works went on exhibit in such
locations as the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., Museum of ModernArt in New York City, and
the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Following World War II, the program quietly ended and the artwork was either returned to the
artists, exhibited for the public, or accessed into the U.S. Navy's Art Collection. Several Marine
combat artists traded their seabags for highly successful careers in fine arts, including Tom Lovell,
John Clymer, and Harry Jackson.
During the Korean War, the Combat Art Program enjoyed a short rebirth. Artists followed operations
throughout the Korean peninsula, recording the real life drama of Marines in combat. One
artist, John Groth, brought the frozen hell of a North Korean winter to American homes through
his passionately expressive ink drawings.
The Combat Art Program was revived in 1966 when Marines were deployed to the Republic
of Vietnam. Colonel Raymond Henri, a published poet and one of Brigadier General Denig's original
"Demons"was tasked by the Commandant, General Wallace M. Greene,Jr., to again stand up a
formal program. Under Colonel Henri's direction, dozens of Marine and civilian artists were
deployed to Southeast Asia. John Groth and Major Jack Dyer led the way and were soon followed
by Lieutenant Colonel er M. Gish, Lieutenant Colonel H. Avery Chenowith, Corporal Henry
Casselli d Howar 11 Ing.
Since Vi tnam, t:we™[kr]il\(:~
Combat artists h
art collection has grown to nearly 8,000 pieces of fine art.
docu ed ~ariue experiences in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Norway,
·Arabi aki tan, Bahrain, Cuba, Somalia and Peru. The strength of the
d unvarnished focus on the human condition under the most
traveled in harm's way with
ork speaks of the generand
place," in peacetime and
age and professionalism.
DONALQ R GARDNER
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