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"Artist Howard Cook’s Brush With Death in the South Pacific" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2020 3:11 p.m. PST

"In 1943, artist Howard Cook traded the desert of his Taos, New Mexico, home for the jungle when he accepted a six-month assignment to lead the U.S. Army's War Art Unit in the South Pacific. Cook, then 41, was an acclaimed printmaker, magazine illustrator, and painter—but at Camp Barnes in Noumea, New Caledonia, he and his fellow artists were treated like run-of-the-mill military men: "We got a good taste of what it feels like to slave and sweat in the steaming stink of a jungle and can well imagine what it means to die or lie wounded in the…slimy mud," the artist wrote to his wife, Barbara.

Cook accompanied the 43rd Infantry Division on missions throughout the region, sketching soldiers at rest and at war. While participating in the assault task force and landing on Rendova Island and on New Georgia's Munda Point, both in the Solomons, the artist experienced his first air raid; huddled in a foxhole, Cook could hear "the short rat-tats of machine-gunning" and "the roar of bombers" as they "came down over and lay their eggs in our midst." …"
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