Posts Tagged ‘Ellsworth Kelly’

The Ghost Army Exhibition

Saturday, June 13th, 2015

SVACE faculty member Elizabeth Sayles has curated a special exhibition featuring the artwork of “The Ghost Army!”

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“Cafe de L’Est” by William Sayles, 1944

Nicknamed “The Ghost Army,” the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops comprised a select group of artists recruited by the U.S. Army in 1943 to deceive the enemy through camouflage and artifice.  The 1,100 men of The Ghost Army were embedded in the battlefields of Europe, ordered to design the illusion of large battalions and conceal the presence of soldiers.  Their “mission was to fool the Germans — with battalions of rubber dummies and inflatable artillery — into thinking that there were huge concentrations of troops and matériel where there weren’t,” as Steven Heller sums it up.

Victor Dowd drawing in Normandy, 1944

Victor Dowd sketching somewhere in Europe, 1944


In between missions, the artists would venture out with pencils, inks, and watercolors to capture their surroundings with drawings and portraits of the people, architecture, and views around them. “We were sleeping in hedgerows and foxholes. But nothing kept us away from going someplace to do a watercolor.”-Ghost Army artist John Jarvie


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Pages from “The Ghost Army of World War II by Elizabeth Sayles and Rick Beyer


Prompting the exhibition, The Ghost Army of World War II is a new book co-written by Elizabeth Sayles and Rick Beyer.  It tells the Ghost Army story and features its artwork.  To bring the artwork out of the book and onto gallery walls, Elizabeth, whose father served in The Ghost Army, has hunted down this artwork and designed the exhibition.  To see original watercolors, drawings, and sketches of The Ghost Army (including three works by Ellsworth Kelly!), visit the Salmagundi Club.

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Flyer for the Salmagundi Club exhibition