Camouflage of Jüterbog by Gordon Waverly Gilkey

Camouflage of Jüterbog by Gordon Waverly Gilkey

Camouflage of Jüterbog

Gordon Waverly Gilkey

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Camouflage of Jüterbog

soft-ground etching and aquatint 
Image Size
14 3/4 x 11 13/16" platemark 
pencil, lower right 
Edition Size
not stated 
pencil titled, dated, and dedicated: "for Ed Littman, GG" in lower margin 
Portland Art Museum 84.25.313 
cream J Whatman wove with partial watermark 
Inventory ID

This intaglio is pencil dedicated by Gilkey (GG) to Texas German Consulate attorney Edward Littman (1908-1970) a German born lawyer who represented clients who survived occupation and internment in Germany, Poland and Italy and filed restitution claims.

The art of camouflage, from the French word camoufler (“to disguise”) played an important part of the war effort for both the Allies and the Axis, especially at airfields and manufacturing centers, concealing them from air attacks.

The historic town of Jüterborg, with records dating back to the 12th century, is located in north-eastern Germany. Gordon Gilkey served time during and after World War II as commander of the first military unit to protect art and antiquities during wartime activity in Europe -- at his own request to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Following the war, he remained in service in Europe confiscating Nazi propaganda, spending much of his time in Germany. "Camouflage in Juterbog" reflects his time there, as a soldier and as a longtime artist whose return to the U.S. in the late 1940s was met by the powerful and exciting influence of Abstract Expressionism.

Gordon Waverly Gilkey was born in Scio, Oregon on March 10, 1912. He began teaching art in 1930 as a student teacher at Albany College (now Lewis & Clark College). In 1936, he was the recipient of the first Master of Fine Arts(MFA) ever to be awarded by the University of Oregon. From 1937–1939, he produced the architectural etchings for the 1939 New York World's Fair and wrote the official book for that event. He joined the art faculty of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri in 1939, where he remained for three years until he began his military service.

During World War II, Gilkey served in the United States Army Air Corps and advised General Eisenhower on cultural monuments to be spared from bombing. Following the Allied victory, Gilkey was named Chief of the War Department’s German War Art Program from 1945 to 1947. His primary responsibility included gathering German and Nazi propaganda art. In his report on “German War Art,” Gilkey explained his job more fully: (he)

“provided for the collection, processing, preservation, and control of war paintings, photographs, maps, trophies, relics, and objects of actual or potential historical interest or value produced during the present war…requesting the collection of available paintings, watercolors, engravings, and drawings showing troops activities, views of battle fields, military installations, industrial or home front activities produced by German and Italian artists during the present war…all works of art relating or dedicated to the perpetuation of German militarism or Nazism will be closed permanently and taken into custody.”

Like the Monuments Men, Gilkey found many pictures in abandoned trains, homes, salt mines, and other hiding places. Much like Monuments Man Lt. Bernard Taper, he investigated leads, interrogated suspects, and spent many months hunting down these various works.The primary collections of art were found in Schloss Ringberg in Bavaria; Bad Aussee, Austria; and the Haus der Deutschen Kunst and the basement of the Führerbau in Munich.

Gilkey also organized the collection, created indexes and files, preserved and restored paintings needing immediate attention, and packed them for shipment. In December 1946 he organized an exhibit of 103 war pictures at Frankfurt’s Staedel Museum, which was viewed by 1500 Allied servicemen and members of the press. Ultimately, 8,722 objects were shipped to the United States (Army Headquarters at Pentagon) on March 20, 1947. For his work, Gilkey was knighted by France and received honors from Italy, Germany and Sweden.

In 1947 Gilkey joined the faculty of Oregon State University in Corvallis, retiring in 1978 as dean of the College of Liberal Arts. That year he became Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Portland Art Museum and professor and printmaker in residence at the Museum Art School, now known as the Pacific Northwest College of Art, in Portland. The college organized a retrospective of his work in 1999.

Over the years Gilkey amassed a large collection of prints spanning the period from the 15th century to the present, with particular emphasis on Mexican, French 19th-century and German Expressionist works. Starting in 1978, he donated more than 10,000 prints, and some drawings, to the museum, which established the Vivian and Gordon Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts in 1993.


Please call us at 707-546-7352 or email to purchase this item.