LIFE, June 5th 1944
Matthew Day Jackson American
Not on view
Jackson reproduced the actual cover of Life magazine, which featured a closely cropped aerial view of a seemingly endless number of marching soldiers, each with their rifles raised and eyes shielded by the rounded form of their helmets. The journal’s date is important as June 6th would be D-Day, when more than 160,000 Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy and, supported by thousands of ships and airplanes, began to liberate Europe from Nazi control. It was a moment that marked a turning point in the war but at a momentous cost as over 9,000 Allied soldiers were either killed or seriously injured during operations. LIFE, June 5th 1944 evokes General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s statement made to the soldiers before the landing began that "The eyes of the world are upon you," something that the photographer and publishers for Life could not have known at the time although, in retrospect, they seem to have anticipated such a sentiment with the cover image. Jackson likely knew that originally D-Day was planned for June 5 but was postponed due to bad weather, making the date and image of the cover even more historically important when viewed in light of what could have been a fiasco that would have extracted an even greater cost in human life and perhaps extended the war for even longer had the plans not been rescheduled for the following day.
LIFE, June 5th 1944 is a rust transfer and woodcut. Jackson hand carved the masthead, date, price, and subscription information into a woodblock, transforming the slick, bright red signature banner for the magazine into one that is an uneven black with a worn, rough appearance. By contrast, to create the image of the soldiers, which corresponds more closely to the photograph that appeared on journal’s cover, Jackson oxidized the etched iron intaglio plate and printed with iron oxide, or rust transfer. Because of this process and materials, no two impressions are exactly the same. The uniqueness of the work, as well as the unorthodox techniques, connects LIFE, June 5th 1944 to Jackson’s other works, as well as his larger concerns with concepts of history, mortality, memory, and the use of advanced technological structures and machinery for such diverse actions as combat and space explorations.