Citizens & Soldiers

April 29, 2021 - June 27, 2021

The Mostly World War Two Paintings by Ken Smith

Artist Information

“I’m a history buff. I am fascinated with the stories of history; individuals dealing with their times as ordinary human beings, as do we all. And the times that undoubtedly test the human character and resolve more than any other are the times of war. My work encapsulates broad historical subjects using a portrayal of a few of the individuals involved.


The paintings in this collection were originally created as covers for magazines and games, but rather than approaching the work as simple commerce, I instead tried to envision them in the manner of my “Golden Age” forebears—the artists of the Brandywine School. Initially I was familiar with only the reproductions of these paintings from their literary publication, but during graduate school, I had the opportunity to view the original canvases of these masters, and what an enlightening experience that was. Their paintings, usually reproduced around 6-by-8 inches (looking both dark and tight), were actually painted very large, usually over 6 square feet, and in the original art the colors and the brushwork were astonishing.


My goal, after being exposed to the original works of these illustration giants, was to capture some of the tone and intensity of their paintings in these humble offerings of my own. That is this collection: each painting attempting to condense a historical event or concept into one image. How would you depict, for example, “The U.S. Army in World War 2 Europe” into one all-inclusive image? That’s my brief for all these paintings — show the gist of the historical subject or event in the relatively simple depiction of a few of the men who were there.


The paintings are all oil on paper or board. The subject matter, both in concept and detail, is meticulously researched and faithfully depicted, using live models with accurate, sometimes original, equipment and uniforms. I don’t show the horror of war, I attempt to show instead the ordinary people caught up in this extraordinary situation.


Ken Smith

Exhibit Details

Ken Smith on display in the Panoramic Gallery April 29, 2021 – June 27.