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)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 35," June 24, 2003–October 19, 2003.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 47," September 20, 2007–January 6, 2008.