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Art, Combat

Traditionally, artists have recorded scenes of fighting as illustrators or in a fine arts tradition with battles based on secondhand observation or created in the artist’s imagination. Gradually the concept of the combat artist emerged as an artist who had witnessed military action on the spot, a soldier first, an artist second. These artists were given freedom of expression and subject matter. They made sketches and photographs in the midst of battle and then finished their work in a studio setting. Combat art recorded the human experience of war: a brutal reality interspersed with quiet moments of waiting. The combat artist added an important third dimension to the battle experience, one that photographs and videos cannot capture.

The combat art program began in World War I, ...

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