Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Civil War Art: The Centennialist School

As my friend Jerry Berta says: "It's time to buy art".

The onset of the Civil War Sesquicentennial should have us all bracing for a veritable tsunami of cliched and mediocre Civil War-themed art from the usual suspects.  As we draw further and further from the original event, the soldiers which appear among the canvases of leading CW artists of today have more the look of reenactors than of scrawny CW soldiers.  Enormous energies are expended on the minutiea of uniform detail or forced pathos rather than thoughtful composition.

The art of the Civil War Centennial was often similarly hackneyed, relying more on cliches and the marketing opportunities of the moment than painterly skill, aesthetics, and the evocation of thought or emotion.  Here is a typical example of one such piece of "Centennialist" art.

Mannie Gentile (1952-) 

Untitled, 1961

Pencil and crayon on newsprint, 8 1/2" x 11"

Artist's collection

Scene depicts Federal cavalrymen advancing through what appears to be an abandoned Confederate artillery battery.


Kevin said...

It clearly depicts the Union cavalry as ruthless marauders bent on destroying the glorious South.

Kevin at Civil War Memory

Mannie Gentile said...


It is endlessly fascinating how we bring our own mythos and experiences to the transaction between art and viewer.


Unknown said...

Been a Civil War geek for a long time, my friend?

Dan said...

Interesting...so, what branch of the service is denoted by green uniform trim?