Tom Lea paints Peleliu

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Peter H
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Tom Lea paints Peleliu

Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 10:17

Tom Lea paints Peleliu,from Life Magazine,June 11th 1945.

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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 10:18

Two Snipers
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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 10:25

The Last Step
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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 10:27

Battle Fatigue(or The Thousand Yard Stare)
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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 10:39

Requiescat in Pace
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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 10:43

Going In
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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 10:46


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Post by Peter H » 24 Oct 2006 12:27

Lea also covered the whole gambit of the Pacific War for Life Magazine.

Fighter in the Sky, Solomon Islands

Pilot A.C. Emerson flying his Wildcat in defense of the carrier Hornet during the naval battle of Santa Cruz (Solomons campaign) on October 26, 1942
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Post by jacobtowne » 28 Oct 2006 15:23

RE: Painting No. 2. "Snipers"

It would be interesting to know whether the artist or the magazine attached this label, since neither weapon portrayed - the Thompson submachine gun on the left and the cal. .30 M1 carbine on the right - was used for sniping, since neither is suitable for this purpose.

JT

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Post by Peter H » 29 Oct 2006 01:18

I think LIFE magazine attached that description.

Here's what they wrote:

Two Snipers,Captain Frank Farrell(right) and Pfc Earl Roth jr ,stop in a thicket to shoot Japs trying to escape from a trap by swimming across the lagoon...

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Post by jacobtowne » 29 Oct 2006 15:38

That sounds right, some caption writer who wasn't familiar with the function of a sharpshooter.
What's surprising is that the magazine published the gory paintings at all.

JT

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Post by Sewer King » 29 Oct 2006 16:56

jacobtowne wrote:What's surprising is that the magazine published the gory paintings at all.

Not necessarily, Life magazine was often a leader in groundbreaking photo journalism, even before the war.

Wasn't it Life magazine that printed the infamous photo of a woman back home with a Japanese skull sent her by her fiance? Other things aside, it might be said that a skull is not the same as a mutilated corpse. But arguing that is a matter of degree, not of kind.

Combat art is different since it's less immediate for the public than other media like news photos, newsreel, and propaganda. Instead it asks you to comtemplate something for a moment.

Which is what you do when you read the captions for the Lea paintings. Although you would do it anyway without them, because paintings are not normally presented that way.

There is an excellent book by George H. Roeder, Jr., The Censored War: American Visual Experience During World War II (Yale University Press, 1993), which goes over many of the landmark wartime images in US history. It also compares them to how Americans saw earlier wars and what it all meant for their future wars. Not so many gory photos out of Iraq today! Any such wider photo treatment there, like those of WW2 let alone Vietnam, might be suspected of treason.

I thought the Lea painting of the bloodied Marine's last step was titled The Price. Calling it "The Last Step" seems to be from the magazine caption.

When you think about it, the death of this Marine as shown here could have taken place in any other war. But it would not have been painted for World War I, when it might have been an outrage. It would scarcely be paintable for Vietnam, where casualties were constantly covered in news and TV and it would had little power. The Lea painting belongs to World War II when the nation back home first began to see and truly realize modern combat more widely, particularly in the pages of Life magazine.

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Post by Windward » 29 Oct 2006 17:39

Sewer King wrote:Wasn't it Life magazine that printed the infamous photo of a woman back home with a Japanese skull sent her by her fiance? Other things aside, it might be said that a skull is not the same as a mutilated corpse. But arguing that is a matter of degree, not of kind.


You mean this photo?

Natalie Nickerson, 20, of Phoenix, writes a than-you to her boyfriend, a Navy Lieutenant, who sent her this grisly memento from New Guinea -- the skull of a Japanese soldier, found on a beach and signed by him and 13 buddies. (For the record, the U.S. military frowned on taking such trophies.) In the spirit of the times, Natalie nicknamed the skull Tojo, after Japan's war minister.
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Post by Sewer King » 29 Oct 2006 22:40

Yes, that's the one. How only "slightly-less-than-ordinary" the photo seems to have been taken in its time, like a senator calling for use of the atom bomb in the 1950s. Neither would be possible today, PC or no PC, and who would be the sort to own up to such sentiment now.

WW2 author James Jones, of From Here to Eternity fame, wrote a large-format book about combat art back in the 1970s titled simply WW2. It included Lea's paintings here such as Going In; Two Thousand-Yard Stare; and (what I'm fairly sure was titled) The Price.

There is a complementary ink drawing to Two Thousand-Yard Stare in the Jones book, titled Shell Shock. It is a disturbing picture of a man who has gone beserk and has to be held down by his fellow soldiers. The vacated look in the Lea painting is contrasted to the manic horror in this other man's face, which looks something like out of a German Expressionist drawing.

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Post by Dan W. » 30 Oct 2006 01:36

Sewer King wrote:
jacobtowne wrote:What's surprising is that the magazine published the gory paintings at all.

Not necessarily, Life magazine was often a leader in groundbreaking photo journalism, even before the war.



I believe LIFE was the first magazine to show pictures of American dead when they published some photos of those killed on the beach at Tarawa. It opened up photo journalism to new images for the American public. It woud be repeated after Normandy to a greater degree and as VE day approached I have noticed in those LIFE magzines from April and May some grphic images of Americans killed by snipers.

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