Nose Art and the Spirit of Our Military

 

The current establishment art world cultivates insularity and isolation as a means to prop up the vapid, dysfunctional art they favor. From sterile white box galleries to haughty elitist attitudes, lots of effort is poured into erecting barriers to separate the experience of art from the despised masses and the realities of life.

But art does not exist to be plaything for decadent crypto-Marxist hipsters. It is a vital outpouring of the human soul, a visual method of spiritual communication. Art can take on surprising and spontaneous forms in the strangest places to remind us of who we really are.

A species of folk art arose when we started taking our wars into the skies. In World War I, for a time the fighting aircraft were painted with bright colors and bold designs that evoked heraldry, like pilots were knights jousting in the air. This was abandoned once it was realized camouflage-type coloration increased survival rates.

Looks cool, but makes a great target.

But even after the overall military plane paint jobs were made to blend the sky, water or land, the crews of planes created art on them, adding a little twist of character and personality in the midst of the industrial scale organization and danger of war.

These weren’t the polite expressions of a genteel upper crust. These images were the anonymous graffiti of common guys living on the edge. Pinup girls, cartoon characters, and catch phrases decorated aircraft that were made to engage the enemy, to kill or be killed. As bands of men were sent to face destruction or victory, they adorned their aircraft with images of jokes, icons of power and lovely ladies. That’s the spirit!

These were images that said we’re coming to kick your butts to protect the things we love. Such a meaningful expression of human endurance and defiance in the face of overwhelming adversity is completely lacking in the cloistered stylings of establishment art today. What our cultural institutions are serving up is completely inadequate for the troubled times we live in.

May we come to have an art world with the urgency of a beautiful woman painted on a mighty flying machine, sent off on a mission of life or death.


A version of this article originally appeared in the blog The Remodern Review. Visit for more commentary on the state of the arts.

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  1. Remodern America Inactive
    Remodern America
    @RemodernAmerica

    Postmodern Hoplite (View Comment):
    Regrets that I didn’t take a picture, but one of the M1 tanks my battalion loaded at Camp Spearhead, KU in 2004 was named “Dickins Cider”

    (Of course, this counts as “high comedy” for a tanker!)

    @postmodernhoplite Boys will be boys!

    • #31
  2. Remodern America Inactive
    Remodern America
    @RemodernAmerica

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

     

    I have an essay at home that my dad wrote about the view from the tail position as 30-some B-17s maneuvered to form up in formation. I’ll have to find it and post it.

    @miffedwhitemale I hope you find it!

    • #32
  3. Dave Matheny Inactive
    Dave Matheny
    @DaveMatheny

    Excuse me for swanning about, but . . . in August 1994, I got to fly “Aluminum Overcast,” the EAA’s B-17, for 20 minutes on a flight from Oshkosh to Duluth, Minnesota. It was an incredible honor. And for the record, it flies just like any other airplane, although more stately in response to control inputs than the light, small aircraft I am used to. Inevitably I thought about how easy it would not have been to be returning from Germany with the airplane badly shot up and asymmetrical and half the crew dead or horribly wounded.

    • #33
  4. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Hey Remodern, what a wonderfully creative post!  I’ve always enjoyed old photos of the planes with their warpaint, but it never occurred to me to be an art genre before.  It sure beats the stuff they call “modern art” in museums today.  Your comments about the Modern Art World are spot-on!

    • #34
  5. Remodern America Inactive
    Remodern America
    @RemodernAmerica

    Dave Matheny (View Comment):
    Excuse me for swanning about, but . . . in August 1994, I got to fly “Aluminum Overcast,” the EAA’s B-17, for 20 minutes on a flight from Oshkosh to Duluth, Minnesota. It was an incredible honor. And for the record, it flies just like any other airplane, although more stately in response to control inputs than the light, small aircraft I am used to. Inevitably I thought about how easy it would not have been to be returning from Germany with the airplane badly shot up and asymmetrical and half the crew dead or horribly wounded.

    @davematheny Wow, what an experience!

    • #35
  6. Remodern America Inactive
    Remodern America
    @RemodernAmerica

    Steven Seward (View Comment):
    Hey Remodern, what a wonderfully creative post! I’ve always enjoyed old photos of the planes with their warpaint, but it never occurred to me to be an art genre before. It sure beats the stuff they call “modern art” in museums today. Your comments about the Modern Art World are spot-on!

    Thanks! Art is for everyone, it’s not meant to be segregated just for the upper crust

    • #36
  7. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    Remodern America (View Comment):

    Thanks! Art is for everyone, it’s not meant to be segregated just for the upper crust

    There is a phenomenon in the visual arts world that does not occur in most other artistic disciplines.  In almost every artistic field, if someone does not like something, they will openly express it.  For instance “that music sucks! Turn it down; that movie was terrible! I’ll never see a Michael Moore film again; I fell asleep during the play; those dancers couldn’t crush grapes; that was the most convoluted book I ever read” and so on.

    Now when it comes to modern paintings, especially in a museum setting, a person will stand in front of a big blank canvas with a dot on it and stare expressionless while thinking “what the Hell is this crap?”  The viewer will not dare to vocalise his bewilderment because he does not wish to expose his great ignorance.  He thinks “This painting is so vacuous as to defy reason.  Nobody could be so cretinous as to exhibit child-like finger paintings in a prestigious institution such as  this!?  There must be something higher that I am missing that is far above my pea-brained mind to comprehend. Therefore I will be silent.”

    My wife enjoys rattling the cages of museum staff by making rude comments about the modern art.  They are usually taken aback, having never before seen such brazenness.  I laugh!

     

    • #37
  8. Remodern America Inactive
    Remodern America
    @RemodernAmerica

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Remodern America (View Comment):

    My wife enjoys rattling the cages of museum staff by making rude comments about the modern art. They are usually taken aback, having never before seen such brazenness. I laugh!

    Good for her! We need more of that. A great way to fight back against post modern relativism is to refuse to accept their premises, and insist on voicing your own valid insights into the merits of the art, or the lack thereof

    • #38
  9. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Remodern America (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Remodern America (View Comment):

    My wife enjoys rattling the cages of museum staff by making rude comments about the modern art. They are usually taken aback, having never before seen such brazenness. I laugh!

    Good for her! We need more of that. A great way to fight back against post modern relativism is to refuse to accept their premises, and insist on voicing your own valid insights into the merits of the art, or the lack thereof

    • #39
  10. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Remodern America (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    I have an essay at home that my dad wrote about the view from the tail position as 30-some B-17s maneuvered to form up in formation. I’ll have to find it and post it.

    @miffedwhitemale I hope you find it!

    Posted.

    http://ricochet.com/434254/beauty-at-twenty-thousand-feet/

     

    • #40
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