Kunstler Civil War Oils on Exhibit
"Heavy Traffic on the Valley Pike" is among the paintings by Mort Kunstler on exhibit in the VMI Museum.
LEXINGTON, Va., March 2, 2012 – An exhibit in the VMI Museum is giving viewers the opportunity to trace the evolution of the Civil War oil paintings of Mort Kunstler.
Col. Keith Gibson ’77, executive director of VMI museum operations, has selected more than two dozen paintings from Kunstler’s own collection to be exhibited in the main gallery of the VMI Museum. Some of the paintings are accompanied by preliminary studies.
“We’ll have these sketches to give a sense of how the artist approached the subject,” said Gibson. “You can actually compare his finished work with his initial … conceptual study.”
Also on exhibit will be props, such as uniform pieces and weapons – things Kunstler uses to visualize a scene and how light will play on the items in it.
“Kunstler is a great student of American history and it’s reflected in his art,” said Gibson. “His studies of the American Civil War have engaged because they’re so visual and so reflective of the struggle. They have helped thousands deepen their interest and their understanding.”
Gibson said Kunstler tends to visit the locations that his paintings depict to get a “personal emersion” in the history. He has visited VMI and the Shenandoah Valley numerous times.
Though the paintings depicting scenes at VMI are mostly in private collections and therefore not available for this exhibit, Gibson did select paintings that are related to the Valley of Virginia or the war in Virginia.
“They are related to people and places that will be familiar to us,” said Gibson
Accompanying the exhibit is a book, ‘For Us the Living’: The Civil War in Paintings by Mort Kunstler, which Gibson calls a “retroflective” of the entire war. The book, Kunstler’s 13th of Civil War paintings, published last year, will be offered for sale in the VMI Museum shop.
Also on exhibit with the oil paintings will be two “finished” studies – that is, drawings colored with water colors or wax pencil – owned by the VMI Museum, one of Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson and one of Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The exhibit will close June 1.