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Standish Backus (1910-1989)


Antarctic Color
Standish Backus #44
Watercolor on paper, 1956

"The expedition vessels during the early summer days in McMurdo Sound lie against the bay ice in a patchwork of color schemes. The colors represent merely a complication of some of the profusion of moods that succeed one another in that world of whiteness. But whiteness is never white - it is the vehicle for reflecting the higher keys in the discernible color range and these can have a profound psychological effect on the visitor to Antarctica." --Commander Standish Backus


The Face of the Ice Barrier - Antarctica
Standish Backus #42
Watercolor on paper, 1956


"Nature, in the role of contemporary architect, is forever redesigning the facade of what might be thought of as her Antarctic Pentagon Building, namely the faces of the great ice shelves surrounding the land. As the sea undercuts and the overhangs break away revealing further crevassing, fantasies of three-dimensional form constantly passed before the eye of the critic. He is mentally stimulated to project the graceful lines of cleavage or the broken lines of fracture into space. Probably he will note architectural features such as arches, vaults, buttresses, groins, coping, pilasters, or corbel tables viewing with the sculptural free forms.

The ice face itself with the snows blowing from the top and the wind whipping the surface of the water below seems to be a dividing zone between the sky and the sea and is in fact a part of each. From the air, one is reminded of great fingernails growing out from the heart of the continent and constantly wearing themselves down clawing at the harsh abrasive of the stormy seas."--Commander Standish Backus


Online Exhibits that feature Standish Backus's work

The Navy Art of Standish Backus
The Japanese Surrender at Tokyo Bay
World War II Navy Art: A Vision of History
Operation Deepfreeze I: 1955-56:

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07 March 2003