Friday, 17 September 2010 00:00
In 1998, the Nassau County Museum of Art’s exhibit, “The Civil War: The Paintings of Mort Künstler,” broke attendance records and stands as one of the museum’s top-drawing shows.
Now, coming on the heels of the equally successful Norman Rockwell exhibit, the library is presenting another piece of Americana, a second showing of Kunstler’s art, this one to commemorate the coming 150th anniversary of the war.
From Sept. 25 through Jan. 9, 2011, the NCMA will present “For Us the Living: The Civil War in Paintings by Mort Künstler.” The exhibit is accompanied by a fully illustrated book of the same title issued by Sterling Publishing. The book will be available at NCMA’s Gift Shop for $35.
“For Us the Living” portrays the sights, feelings and drama of the Civil War. The exhibition consists of approximately 50 paintings accompanied by a selection of documentary objects. Many of the paintings are from Künstler’s own collection, others are from various private and public collections. For the first time, visitors to a Künstler exhibition will gain an inside look into the artist’s creative process through a display of his sketches, drawings, preliminary studies, photographs and props. This major exhibition fills the museum’s first and second floor galleries.
Mort Künstler is regarded by many as the leading contemporary painter of Civil War scenes. His work is esteemed for its dramatic intensity and for an extraordinary level of authenticity that results from intensive research.
Dr. James I. Robertson Jr., the noted Civil War historian and author of the biography, Stonewall Jackson, has said, “Mort Künstler is the foremost Civil War artist of our time – if not of all time.” Harold Holzer, a senior official at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one of the nation’s leading authorities on Abraham Lincoln and the political culture of the Civil War era, added: “His art is terrific, and he’s attracted thousands of people to Civil War art.” Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson agrees, “Of all the artists working in the Civil War field, none captures the human element, the aura of leadership, the sense of being there and sharing in the drama quite like Mort Künstler,” said McPherson.
A resident of Oyster Bay, Künstler studied art at Brooklyn College, UCLA and Pratt Institute. He became a highly successful illustrator, working on assignments for Newsweek, Saturday Evening Post, Mad Magazine and Boy’s Life. Accuracy became firmly imbued into Künstler’s art beginning with assignments of historical topics from National Geographic; these assignments also taught him the value of working with noted historians.
A commission from CBS-TV to do the paintings for the mini-series, The Blue and The Gray, was the beginning of the artist’s close association with the Civil War. The High Water Mark, a painting executed for that series, is considered a highly accurate and moving depiction of the battle at Gettysburg. It was unveiled at Gettysburg National Military Park Museum in 1988 in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the battle.
In conjunction with “For Us the Living,” the museum will offer several public programs to enhance the experience of the exhibition. Among them are a reenactment of a Civil War skirmish, a book signing and a talk by the artist.
Call 484-9337 for current exhibitions, events, hours and directions or log onto nassaumuseum.org.
“It is for us the living rather to be
dedicated here to the unfinished
work which they who fought here
have thus far so nobly advanced.”
Gettysburg Address, 1863