The story of the men and women who have served to defend the United States is interpreted in an unprecedented exhibition created by the Peninsula Fine Arts Center opening July 25. Continuing through Nov. 1, 2009, In the Line of Duty: The Art of America’s Armed Forces, brings together artworks from all five military branches in a scope and depth never seen before.
“The pictorial aspect carries a remarkable series of narratives,” says Pfac Curator and Program Director Michael Preble. “Some speak of battle, others of the scenes of daily life, others convey images from the home front. At the same time, I wanted the selections to show the power of the artists’ interpretation in many different styles that portray the conflict on both the large scale—the battles, the troops—and the quieter, often more personal moments that show true courage, sacrifice and honor.”
In the Line of Duty features over 200 artworks displayed in three sections. The principal component, In the Line of Fire, offers an overview of artists who painted on-site during conflict and artists who were eye-witnesses to events. Many of these artworks are on loan from the United States Navy and Marine Corps.
With art dating back to the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), the second section, The Art of War, offers an historical view through the work of such notable artists as Thomas Hart Benton, Winslow Homer, Reginald Marsh and James Montgomery Flagg, among others. Some works are lent from the military, as well as museum and private collections. These pieces are rarely seen outside their home venues.
The final component, Personal Views, showcases artist-soldiers currently working in the Armed Forces. It adds a contemporary voice to In the Line of Duty. “The strength of this exhibition,” says Preble, “is the surprising variety of expressions and the diverse ways military conflict is conveyed.”