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Posts Tagged ‘Battlefield’

Keith Rocco’s historical paintings are careful representations of the past, immortalized on canvas.  Rocco has been honing his craft since he was a child and received a book on the Civil War for Christmas.  He spent his youth copying the illustrations out of books and studying history.  Rocco’s paintings are carefully planned out and meticulously executed.  He works with historians and depending on where the event he is painting took place, will reach out to local historians and museums for detailed analysis.  Rocco does as much research as possible before taking brush to canvas and takes great lengths to ensure what he is painting is accurate.

Civil War Artist Keith Rocco

ArtistKeith Rocco

Birthplace: Illinois

Studio:  Shenandoah Valley, VA

Galleries/Museums: “In 1985 Rocco was proclaimed by the French magazine Uniformes, as a ‘artist in the tradition of Remington and Detaille.'” His paintings have been exhibited and commissioned by, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Pentagon, the Atlanta Historical Society, the House of Representatives, Gettysburg National Park, the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, the National Guard Heritage Collection, and the U.S. Army War.  He has painted three murals for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison  College, six murals for the Pamplin Historical Park, a centerpiece mural “Gettysburg”, for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois, and worked on commissions for the University of Illinois Press, University of Georgia Press, Chapel Hill, Military History, American History Illustrated, Napoleon Journal, Soldats Napoleonien, Le Livre Chez Vous and other publications.

Process:  Rocco is a calculated artist who researches and gathers information months in advance of a painting.  He has even been known to think about ideas for years before taking brush to canvas.  Rocco is a purest and his website bio hints at the historical perfection he strives to obtain.  “The small cup of earth on his studio shelf, for instance, was sent to confirm the color of the soil at Jamestown Colonial site,” (Rocco).

Rocco is also a collector of Civil War relics and his peers even comment on his array of Civil War memorabilia as impressive.   When I spoke with Steve Sylvia, President of Civil War Dealers and Collectors Association (CWDCA)  he explained that because Rocco is a collector, he is able to obtain accuracy based on his intimate familiarization with the artifacts of the Civil War.

 Keith Rocco, [is] considered [one of the] top in the world today.  More importantly, he is a collector.  He can offer another angle as a man who knows the details of the artifacts, uniforms, weapons, etc. and the appeal of such items to collectors.  This goes toward accuracy of detail and the reasoning behind that as opposed to say an Impressionistic representation, for example.

The 140th New York on Little Round Top, Artist Keith Rocco

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Mort Kunstler

Mort Künstler is a Civil War artist who is painting well into his eighties from a studio that boasts a backdrop of blue and grey. Located on Long Island, New York the casual visitor might first believe that Künstler is captivated by the sea, but his daughter Jane is quick to point out, “he lives on the water but he doesn’t paint seascapes because he thinks it is really boring, it’s not a challenge.  He loves looking at it but he doesn’t find it a challenge.”

Künstler rises to the challenge, capturing Civil War art and the passion that was evoked in events during the war. True to form, Künstler researches, walks, and talks the Civil War to get a better sense of the ideas, images, and first-hand accounts he is portraying.

Cognizant of painting an aestetically pleasing representation, Künstler’s pieces create a connection between the present day audience and the past faces of the war. “About half of Mort’s collectors are women which is surprising,” Jane comments.

Künstler’s artwork is sought after in the art collectors’ world.  At a recent museum exhibit at Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia visitors not only attended the event but inquired on purchasing the original works. “Three paintings were sold right away and it was the women who were just as, or more so, involved in the decision-making and choosing and interest and enthusiasm of the sale as the husband,” Jane explains.

Artist: Mort Künstler

Studio: Oyster Bay, Long Island New York

Education: Brooklyn College, U.C.L.A. and Pratt Institute

Previous Occupations: Illustrator for magazine copy in New York, National Geographic, Official NASA Space Shuttle Artist, film artist, CBS-TV The Blue and the Gray

Künstler’s objective is to paint paintings that allow the audience to feel as though they were there, in the moment.  His accuracy is noteworthy as is his choice in events to capture.  Künstler also looks for events that are less known but still send a strong message to those viewing the work.

Galleries/Museums: The American Spirit – The Paintings of Mort Kunstler, text written by, Henry Steele Commager, Gettysburg National Military Park Museum on July 2, 1988 (125th anniversary of the Civil War), painting, The High Water Mark, Images of the Civil War – The Paintings of Mort Kunstler, text written by James McPherson, Gettysburg – The Paintings of Mort Kunstler, text written by James McPherson, television show, Images of the Civil War – The Paintings of Mort Kunstler aired on A&E, Nassau County Museum of Art exhibit, The Civil War – The Paintings of Mort Kunstler, “Mort Kunstler Day” by Governor James Gilmore in 1999 and 200, Virginia, Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond exhibit, The Confederate Spirit: The Paintings of Mort Kunstler, Official Artist of the Ohio State Bicentennial, named official artists for the cinematic creation Gods and Generals, published book Gods and Generals: The Paintings of Mort Künstler, exhibit at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, given the Henry Timrod Southern Culture Award by the M.O.S.B., Jefferson Davis Southern Heritage Award from the Military Order of the Stars recipient.

Process:  Künstler works alongside historians and researches historic events that took place during the Civil War.  His passion for painting historically accurate events of the Civil War really ignited in 1998 after he was commissioned to create a Civil War cover illustration for the CBS-TV program, The Blue and the Gray.  He could paint anything but enjoys the challenge of accuracy and presenting a historical representation of an event.  Künstler relies on historians like Dr. James I. Robertson Jr., alumni and recently retired Professor at Virginia Tech in creating historically representative narrative paintings.

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So What?

The Civil War was a pivotal moment in our nation’s history.  Captured through thousands of still photographs, journal entries, sketches, first-hand accounts, oral history, newspaper reports, official reports, declarations, and telegrams, the war takes on a life of its own.  Thousands of reenactors and history buffs take to battlefields to draw connections with the past but this can also be achieved though a painting.

Historically accurate paintings of the Civil War allow for clear visual representation that not only is aesthetically pleasing but also teaches generations about their relatives and fellow countrymen.  The paintings themselves capture a period of time when America was divided, a novel idea to a child growing up in the 21st century.

It is through this art that education spawns.  When a museum, community center, school, or individual takes an interest in preserving the past, generations become educated about their own society and how the actions of the past helped shaped results in the future.   150 years ago, the North and the South fought and killed their geographical neighbors.  150 years later, we as a collective society gaze into the eyes of General Robert E. Lee, General Ulysses S. Grant, confederate and union soldiers and feel a connection.

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Wayne E. Motts

Wayne E. Motts

Wayne E. Motts

  • Adams County Gettysburg, PA
  • Executive Director Historical SocietyBorn and raised in central Ohio, Wayne graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in history in 1989. Moving to Gettysburg in 1990, Wayne earned a Master’s Degree in American History from the Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania in 1994. He was one of the youngest persons ever to complete the licensing process to be a Licensed Battlefield Guide at Gettysburg National Military Park. He has guided parties around the famous field for over 20 years. He has spoken to a wide range of historical bodies and groups on topics related to the American Civil War including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. In addition to his speaking engagements, Wayne has published several pieces related to the American Civil War in a variety of publications. He is considered the leading authority in the nation on Southern General Lewis Addison Armistead of Pickett’s Charge fame and has published the only biography of the general entitled, Trust in God and Fear Nothing: Lewis A. Armistead, CSA. For ten years he was the research historian for renowned Civil War Artist Dale Gallon of Gettysburg where he assisted in the historical research of 40 works of fine art. He was the Senior Research Historian for TravelBrains Corporation and in this capacity researched material to be included in a number of audio-visual products related to the American Civil War. The products produced by his research have been endorsed by the History Channel and have won numerous awards. In 2002, he accepted the position of curator at the Cumberland County Historical Society where he managed a collection of 8,000 artifacts. In 2004, he assumed duties as the collections manager of the Adams County Historical Society in Gettysburg. In 2005, Wayne was named executive director of the Society where he oversees a staff of five and 60 volunteers. In addition to his directorship, Wayne is the chairman of the Alliance of Pennsylvania County Historical Societies (APACHS), which promotes collaboration and best practices among the Commonwealth’s 67 county historical societies. As chairman of APACHS he sits on the board of the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations (PFMHO).

Biography Courtesy of Wayne E. Motts

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The Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Georgia is celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with the Civil War works of Mort Künstler.  Booth Western Art Museum focuses on Western American Art and boasts over 120,000 square feet of Civil War art, Presidential portraits and letters, Western movie posters, and Western illustration.

Künstler’s art was well received at the opening on April 2, 2011 with people inquiring on purchasing many of the works.  Künstler’s daughter Jane said she was taken aback by the interest in purchasing an original Künstler Civil War painting and hadn’t even come prepared with prices.  “It’s an exhibit in a museum, I never expected to sell three paints right away,” she said.

The interest in Künstler’s art spans all ages and genders.  Jane points out that 50 percent of Künstler’s audience and costumers are women.  While he believes in capturing the events of the Civil War this hasn’t limited Künstler to strictly battle scenes.  He has done many works that depict the love, emotion, and rejuvenation between the ‘characters’ of the Civil War showing a national audience that these were real people who had real emotional hardships.

For Us the Living: The Civil War in Paintings and Eyewitness Accounts

The Booth Western Art Museum is located in Georgia and as a Southern state, some areas of the country are uncertain about celebrating the anniversary of the Civil War.  Yet Künstler’s exhibit show’s both sides of the war and his paintings evoke such powerful feelings that it almost feels as though the Confederate and Union soldiers are used to being displayed together as more of a collective look and feel, versus a segregated distance.  Perhaps this exhibit will elicit the feeling of a United America, turning brother versus brother back to the commonality of fraternity.  For Us the Living, with a name that binds rather than divides, represents 150 years later, the rejoining and strength of our nation.

Mort Künstler’s Civil War Art: For Us the Living
April 2 – September 4, 2011 Special Exhibition Gallery

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