MORT KUNSTLER AT THE BOOTH MUSEUM
|"War is Hell." Atlanta is destroyed|
Mort Kunstler says he never pretended to be a historian. “I’m an artist,” he told me during lunch in the museum, “and I got into the Civil War as a result of one painting about Gettysburg that became very popular. I found that there is so much about the war that most aren’t aware of and that really prompted me to paint what I found interesting.”
James McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Battle Cry of Freedom praised Kunstler and his works: “Of all the artists working in the Civil War field, none captures the human element, the aura of leadership, the sense of being there and sharing in the drama, quite like Mort Künstler. He has that enviable talent of being able to re-create history on canvas and to translate events into art.”
You don’t just see a Kunstler Civil War painting, you behold it. Most are powerful and the emotional impact is not predicated on battlefield blood and gore which Kuntler usually avoids. One memorable painting is centered on the casualties from the battle of Frericksburg. A hospital is so overcrowded that the wounded spill onto the grounds.. While attending to wounded Union soldiers, a young Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, takes time to serve hot broth to a wounded, grateful Confederate soldier. Nearby, poet Walt Whitman is nusing another injured U.S. Army soldier. “Acts of compassion,” says Kunstler, “weren’t uncommon and I like painting them.”
It would be normal to think you’ve seen some of Mort Kunstler’s works before. Chances are you have. His works are in museums, national parks, bookstores, galeries, corporate collections and homes coast to coast. To this day, I’ve yet to see wall calendars half as good as those featuring Kunstler’s paintings. “Three come out every year,” he revealed. “I think they do well.”
Presented to coincide with the 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Mort Künstler’s Civil War Art: For Us the Living exhibition at the Booth Museum traces the history of our Nation’s greatest conflict through the paintings of one of America’s greatest historical artists. The exhibit, which continues through early September, features more than 40 major paintings, plus preliminary sketches, documentary photographs, studio artifacts and other objects Künstler uses to create his masterworks. One painting, “War is Hell,” is in the Booth Museum’s permanent collection. You can almost feel the heat and hear the cries of despair during the burning of Atlanta in 1864.
More information: http://www.boothemuseum.org/.