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"For Us the Living": The Civil War in Paintings by Mort Kunstler

September 25, 2010 - January 9, 2011


"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."
Abraham Lincoln
Gettysburg Address, 1863


In commemoration of the coming 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Nassau County Museum of Art (NCMA) presents Civil War paintings by Mort Künstler. On view from September 25, 2010 through January 9, 2011.

"For Us the Living": The Civil War in Paintings by Mort Kunstler 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, says, "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, says of Künstler: "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." NCMA's 1998 exhibition, The Civil War: The Paintings of Mort Künstler, broke attendance records and stands as one of the museum's top-drawing shows.

A resident of Oyster Bay, NY, Mort 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.

"For Us the Living": The Civil War in Paintings by Mort Kunstler 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.


(above: Mort Künstler, Angel of the Battlefield, 2010, Oil on canvas, 23 inches X 34 inches. ©2010 Mort Künstler, Inc.)


(above: Mort Künstler, Lion of the Valley, Jackson in Winchester Virginia, 2008, Oil on canvas, 22 x 36 inches. Mort Künstler Inc.)


(above: Mort Künstler, Rush's Lancers, Camp Meigs, Philadelphia, 2008, Oil on canvas, 20 x 38 inches. Mort Künstler Inc.)


(above: Mort Künstler, Rush to the Summit, Chamberlain at Gettysburg, 2009, Oil on canvas, 20 x 38 inches. Mort Künstler Inc.)


(above: Mort Künstler, The Autograph Seekers of Bel Air, 2009, ©2009 Mort Künstler, Inc. Private Collection)


Related events

In conjunction with "For Us the Living": The Civil War in Paintings by Mort Kunstler, the museum will offer several public programs to enhance the experience of the exhibition. Among them are Private Tea & Tour of the Exhibition on October 6 and November 17; a visit in the galleries with "General A.P. Hill," a typical Civil War soldier, on October 16; a conversation with Mort Künstler on October 17; a reenactment of a Civil War skirmish on October 23; and signings of Mort Künstler's new book, For Us the Living, on November 14 and December 5. For details, go to nassaumuseum.org/events.

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