The Art Of War
December 18, 2005 7:48 AM   Subscribe

At least one commander told him, "Follow the soldiers' instructions, because they'll put their lives at risk to save you." But no one tried to censor his drawings or discourage him from going out on missions. -- Steve Mumford is a New York painter who was embedded as a "combat artist" in Iraq. The archives of his Baghdad Journal make for fascinating reading. He has recently published a large book of the art he created on this voyage.
posted by Gator (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
You'd have to paint fast out there, looks like a wicked book - I'll order a copy now.
posted by RhidianJ at 7:54 AM on December 18, 2005


He's a fine illustrator to be sure, but I don't see any art in this portfolio. More crap commercialism of the War on Terror. It's completely wrong that any soldier should have to put him- or herself at risk to carry this deadweight on patrol.
posted by three blind mice at 8:00 AM on December 18, 2005


Fantastic. Thanks for bringing Mumford to my attention. Reminiscent of the poets and artists of a bygone era. And his work is exceptional, adeptly executed images with more atmosphere than the television coverage we're submitted to each and every day!

Do you (or anyone else) have a good way to get hold of him? He'd be a perfect subject for an immersion travel interview at e-Marginalia. (Current: Rolf Potts Interview) And maybe he'd be interested as a way to help promote his new book? I'll poke around online and see what I can find, but any suggestions would be great.
posted by geoflaneur at 8:04 AM on December 18, 2005


He's a fine illustrator to be sure, but I don't see any art in this portfolio. More crap commercialism of the War on Terror. It's completely wrong that any soldier should have to put him- or herself at risk to carry this deadweight on patrol.

I see what you're saying (i.e., the artist has no strategic value so why assume the risk), but combat art has a lasting value to society. Some of the most enduring and moving images we have from WWI, for example, were created on the battlefield.

Whether or not it's art (which I think you're also saying) is as moot a point here as it is anywhere.
posted by 327.ca at 8:16 AM on December 18, 2005


I'd guess that the best way to get in touch with him would be through his publisher, geoflaneur.
posted by Gator at 9:53 AM on December 18, 2005


Gracias, Gator. I'll try that.

And, 327.ca, you've hit on what I meant with my ref to poets and artists of a bygone era when you said, "combat art has a lasting value to society" and then reminded us of WW!
posted by geoflaneur at 10:22 AM on December 18, 2005


It's a nice idea but his pictures are too much like children's illustrations! I mean this could be straight out of a child's picture book! He makes the war look like a fairytale! There is a very incongruous tweeness about his pictures, like someone was trying to make life in Iraq appear more idyllic than it might be. This might be extremely grating if I wasn't one of the least cynical people here!
posted by mokey at 12:38 PM on December 18, 2005


That guy giving him the dirty look on the cover of his book--I think I would look like that at some american with an easel and canvas.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:38 PM on December 18, 2005


Boston Globe Story.

I went to high school with this guy and his brother. Cool!
posted by alms at 7:14 AM on December 19, 2005


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