Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Letter from a fan:
I'm a Civil War addict from the UK and an admirer of Mr Kunstler's Civil War art. It really seems to evoke a true feeling of key events/battles and with the obvious attention to detail, you do get the impression that you're really there.
One thing that strikes me is the concentration on Southern subjects, particularly Lee & Jackson, and an apparent interest in 'Lost Cause' romanticism. I think Mr Kunstler was born in New York, so I'm fascinated to know what inspires this leaning towards The South? I think someone once said that although the Southern soldiers were good fighters, 'it was the worst cause for which anyone ever fought'. However, as someone from the UK, (and with no US/Southern heritage) I must say that I also seem inexplicably drawn to the South. Perhaps it's the enigmatic military leaders? The victories inspired by Lee and Jackson often against a vastly numerically superior enemy never cease to amaze me. Perhaps the amazing fortitude shown, particularly in the latter part of the war? The nobility and honour of the Southern gentleman? Many were not slave-holders but still fought for a cause they believed in.
Although I'm sure it's not very PC these days to admire people who essentially fought to preserve an evil institution, I guess they were 'men of their time' and can't be entirely judged by today's standards. I would be really interested to understand Mr. Kunstler's point of view on this, and why he also shares this apparent Southern bias'?.
Mr. Künstler's response:
Mr. Künstler does not use a computer, so he has asked me to respond to your kind email. He appreciated your observations and had this to say...
First, while he has done at least one Union picture every year, he admits that the Confederacy is much more fun to paint. The more prosperous Union soldiers were all dressed the same, and in a lineup they all looked the same. In contrast, the Confederate soldiers were a rag tag bunch. They all dressed differently and this makes for more interesting images and subjects to paint.
Secondly, during the preparation of several of Mr. Künstler's Civil War art books ("Images of the Civil War", "Gettysburg," and "Jackson and Lee,") he became acquainted with, and later a good friend of, the foremost Jackson biographer, historian James Robertson. This partnership has helped make Mort Künstler the "visual biographer" of Jackson and Lee.