Have you ever heard of the Combat Artists Program? In June 1966, the Army created the Vietnam Combat Artists Program. Soldier-artists in this program often reached for paints and canvas instead of weapons. They documented the war using a variety of mediums and created works of art that inspired and provided a visual interpretation of life during wartime.
The idea of using art to invoke emotion during battle was not new. Artists and photographers have created images dating back to the Revolutionary War. Photographer Mathew Brady captured scenes during the Civil War that are still viewed regularly today. During WWI, eight artists were commissioned and sent to Europe to capture images involving the American Expeditionary Force. The Army established a War Art Unit during WWII and selected 42 artists to participate. By the end of the war, the Army had acquired more than 2,000 pieces of art. The Marine Corps Combat Art Program had more than 70 artists during WWII and the program remains today, although with fewer artists participating. The Navy’s Combat Art Program began in 1941 and included eight active-duty artists by 1944. The United States Air Force Art Program started in 1950 when the US Army Air Corps transferred some 800 pieces of art documenting the early days of military aviation.
Our 9th Infantry Division collection includes Combat Art created during the Vietnam War between the years 1966 – 1969. Here are a few examples of combat art from this collection. To see additional works, search the 9th Infantry Division Combat Art Collection today on Fold3!