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World War II Navy Art: A Vision of History

Alexander P. Russo (1922- )

Specialist First Class, USNR

Russo studied art at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve in 1942. First assigned as a graphic artist for the Navy recruiting bureau, he documented in art North African, Sicilian, and Normandy invasion operations. While completing that work he came into contact with the Navy Combat Art Program. He later transferred to that section and completed an assignment on board U.S.S. Tranquility in the Pacific. Russo received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his combat artwork.

After the war, he continued to study art and later taught at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C and Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. He exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions, mainly in New York, Washington, D.C., and East Hampton, Long Island.


Fire Fighters in London
Alexander P. Russo #07
Oil on canvas, 1944
30 1/4h" x 25 1/2w"





To the Burial Ground
Alexander P. Russo #32
Oil on canvas, 1944
23 1/2h" 29 1/2w"


Many of the dead were buried on the slope of a hill directly behind the beach after the landings on D-Day at Normandy. A high price was paid in terms of American lives in establishing the first beachhead, which lead to final victory.


Captured German Gun Emplacements in a Normandy Field
Alexander P. Russo #45
Gouache, 1945
30 1/2h" x 38 1/2w"


The fields had many of these man-made terrain features, structures of cement stone and steel -- some fit snuggly into contours of a hill slope to escape air detection, others stood boldly in fields, seemingly defiant, with only a casual horizontal cover of foliage. All had one purpose, one common design, to stop our advancing troops.


Ambulance Being Loaded with Survivors at Peleliu Hospital
Alexander P. Russo #71
Wash drawing on scratchboard, 1945
30 1/4h" x 25 1/2w"


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13 July 2005