Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been engaged in multiple wars, varying in intensity, locale, and consequence. After fifteen years, this warfare has become normalized into our social and cultural landscape; it is ongoing, yet somehow out of sight, invisible.
The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now explores and assesses the human costs of ongoing wars through portraiture. The exhibition title is drawn from John Keegan’s classic military history, which reorients our view of war from questions of strategy and tactics to its personal and individual toll. Featuring fifty-six works by six artists, the exhibition includes photographs by Ashley Gilbertson, Tim Hetherington, Louie Palu, and Stacy Pearsall; site-specific installation of drawings by Emily Prince; and paintings, sculpture, and time-based media by Vincent Valdez.
With this poignant exhibition, the National Portrait Gallery will put a face on recent wars through the work of artists who have pictured the experience of common soldiers. The Face of Battle will also bring to public attention the latest formal developments in the field of portraiture as practiced by a diverse and talented group of artists. The exhibition will place the focus on the identity and experiences of ordinary soldiers who fought and continue to fight for our nation.