George Butler, the latest in a long line of combat artists

April 30, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: Battlelines, Battlelines: Road to Gettysburg, journalists, reporters.

One of my areas of continuing interest is the artwork produced in and around the theaters of war. This art has not only special characteristics but also special meaning. The people who produce it are journalists just as much as the reporters, photographers, and television camera carriers, and producers who report on battles that they have witnessed.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has now produced its own set of combat artists. One of those is Georgia Butler, and his work using dip pens, watercolors, India ink, and a drawing board stashed in his shoulder bag can be viewed at this link on the guardian newspaper website.

“I guess doing my job is a compulsion,” he says. “I think it’s the same for photojournalists and journalists who cover conflicts. We want to tell stories that otherwise we assume would not be told. That’s always been my intention in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Yemen and all the other places I’ve worked in before.” Source: Artist George Butler: ‘I draw what happens at the fringes of atrocity’ | Illustration | The Guardian

Butler is one of the latest on the very long line of artists who have heard the boom of the cannon and the movement of an army and have rushed toward it with whatever artistic instruments they have been comfortable. These people bring a special point of view to the conflicts they cover, and they convey special insights into those conflicts.

As we watch with horror the devastation that has been wrought by this conflict — one many of us never thought we would see in a place like Europe – we should pay special attention to the men and women who tell us a story that no one else is able to tail.

Here are some previous links to previous post on about combat artists:

The two Specials – combat artists – at Gettysburg

Vietnam Combat Artists Program

John Singer Sargent: combat artist in World War I

Battlelines: Gettysburg displays never-before-published work of Civil War sketch artists

Illustration above: Vietnam Combat Artists Program



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