Sunday, March 25, 2012

Camouflage Artist | Stanley Martineau

Stanley Martineau (detail) in his studio, n.d.

Recently we ran across an Associated Press Wirephoto, dated January 19, 1943, which includes the following caption: NEW YORK, Jan. 18, SOLDIER'S BUST OF FDR UNVEILED. Pvt. Stanley Martineau (left) of the 603rd Engineers, Camouflage Division, is congratulated today on his sculpture of President Roosevelt. The three-ton, 13-foot bust was unveiled at the General Post Office here. Left to right: Pvt. Martineau, Mayor F.H. LaGuardia of New York City, Postmaster Albert Goldman and Basil O'Connor, President of the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis.

Stanley Martineau (pictured above working on a portrait of financier J.P. Morgan), from Washington Depot CT, was born in 1915 and died in 1977. Throughout his life, he worked as a commissioned sculptor, completing portrait busts and/or medallions of US Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, the inventor Alexander Graham Bell, financier W.K. Vanderbilt, and various sports heroes, including tennis player Pierre Etchebaster and basketball player Bob Cousy.

Less widely known is his service during World War II as a member of the top secret Ghost Army, a part of the 603rd Engineers, Camouflage Division, officially referred to as the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. Other well-known artists-designers in the same unit included Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Singer (wildlife illustrator) and Art Kane. The existence and operations of this 1100-person unit remained classified until 1996. Details of its mission (including interviews with some of its participants) will be featured later this year (2012), with the release of a new documentary film called The Ghost Army.