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The Ghost Army

World War II's Artists of Deception

Two Ghost Army Paintings to be Offered for Auction

Two original wartime paintings by Ghost Army artist Harold Laynor will be offered for auction in the coming weeks to benefit both The Ghost Army film project and The Laynor Foundation Museum. A special thank you to Harold’s wife Gloria for sharing the paintings for this auction. These are vivid, evocative  pieces, and present an exciting opportunity to own a unique piece of Ghost Army history.

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The first of the two paintings being offered is After the Battle, a 24” x 17” oil painting. Its appraised value is $5500. Laynor described the work this way: “The Battle of the Bulge is over. It’s over and we’re war weary. We’re tired, and we rested."

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The second is Guard Duty, a 9” x 12” watercolor study that became the basis for a later oil painting. “It seemed we were spending half our war years on guard duty” said Laynor,” in rain slime, sleet, snow, whatever. You had to keep awake. In fact, I do recall putting match sticks in our eyes just to keep our lids open, so we looked awake.”

The auction will take place on Ebay, most likely in the second week in July.

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Harold Laynor was born in New York City in 1922 and graduated from Parson’s School of Design. While serving in the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, the visual deception arm of the Ghost Army, he was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. He was convalescing in a Paris hospital when painter Pablo Picasso visited the ward. Struck by Laynor's interest in his work, Picasso invited the young artist to visit him in his studio. "I found Picasso wonderful and it's not difficult to see why he is the top figure in the art world today" wrote Laynor to his wife Gloria in 1945. "My visit to his studio and working with him greatly inspires me to continue with my painting."

Picasso strengthened Laynor's belief that an artist must trust in his or her intuition to create freedom and originality. Laynor's strong convictions about patriotism coupled with his sense of the realities of war are dramatically portrayed in his vivid and striking collection of World War II paintings, some painted during the war, some painted afterward based on wartime sketches and watercolors.

Laynor went on to become a Professor of Art at Millersville University, Millersville, PA. An internationally renowned artist, he won many prestigious awards including the Louis Comfort Tiffany scholarship for painting, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Huntington Hartford Fellowship for painting. Laynor died in 1991.

Laynor’s collection of World War II paintings has been exhibited all over the world, and it is only recently that individual items from this collection have become available for sale.

An online presentation about Laynor and his work can be found here.  This is from the Patton Memorial Museum in Luxembourg.

This is Part 1 of a 1992 video about Laynor and his work. The style is quite dated, but it is interesting to hear Laynor talk about his work. Produced by Gigantic Productions, ©1992 Gloria Laynor.

The Laynor Foundation Museum awards scholarships to deserving students who are pursuing a career in the visual arts and art education, and are in need of financial assistance. It also supports community needs by increasing the awareness of the value of the visual arts.