Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

The Human U.S. Shield

Artist:
Arthur S. Mole (American, born England, 1889–1983)
Artist:
John D. Thomas (American, died 1947)
Date:
1918
Medium:
Gelatin silver print
Dimensions:
32.5 x 26.4 cm (12 13/16 x 10 3/8 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987
Accession Number:
1987.1100.478
Not on view
Arthur Mole first developed his technique of collective portraiture in a religious context, photographing fellow church members gathered together in the shape of religious symbols. When the United States entered World War I, Mole and his colleague John Thomas turned to patriotic themes. They choreographed thousands of soldiers into formations such as the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. Their largest production was the U.S. Human Shield, photographed at Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan, which comprised 30,000 men.
Inscription: Inscription on negative, as white on print recto, LL, LR: "THE HUMAN U.S. SHIELD // 30,000 OFFICERS AND MEN // CAMP CUSTER, BATTLE CREEK, MICH. // BIG. GEN. HOWARD L. LAUBACH COMMANDING", "c [encircled] // 1918 // MOLE & THOMAS // 915 MEDINAH BLDG. // CHICAGO, ILL."
[Daniel Wolf, New York]; John C. Waddell, New York (February 11, 1981)

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