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Barry Faulkner (July 12, 1881 – October 27, 1966) was an American artist who was primarily known for his murals. During World War I, he and sculptor Sherry Edmundson Fry organized artists for training as camouflage specialists (called camoufleurs), an effort that contributed to the founding of the American Camouflage Corps in 1917.

Background

Faulkner was born in Keene, New Hampshiremarker. He was a cousin of the painter and naturalist Abbott H. Thayer (sometimes called the “father of camouflage”), who lived in nearby Dublin, New Hampshiremarker (White 1951). He was a student of Thayer, George de Forest Brush and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Discouraged by his family from pursuing a career in art, he agreed to attend one year at Harvard Universitymarker, where his roommate was Saint-Gaudens’ son, Homer Saint-Gaudens. He then returned to the study of art, traveled to Europe, and, in 1907, became the first American artist to receive the Prix de Rome at the American Academy there. Faulkner returned to the U.S. in 1910, and thereafter worked as a muralist from his studio in New Yorkmarker (Faulkner 1973).

Camouflage contributions

With the outbreak of World War I, he and other New York artists anticipated the U.S. entry in the war. With Sherry Fry (who had also studied with Augustus Saint-Gaudens), he organized dozens of artists (who wanted to serve as camouflage experts, rather than having to fight at the front) in a civilian pre-war unit called the New York Camouflage Society. After the U.S. entered the war, the U.S. Army formed its own unit, called the American Camouflage Corps, and appointed Homer Saint-Gaudens as its head (Behrens 2002; 2009, pp. 24-25). According to Faulkner’s autobiography, he and Fry, with four other artists (Laurence Grant, Henry Sutter, Harry Thrasher and “Casey” Jones), were the first enlisted camoufleurs. He spent the remainder of the war in Francemarker, attached to what was officially called Company A of the 40th Engineers (Faulkner 1973).

Murals

Throughout his life, Faulkner's main achievements were as a muralist. His earliest commissions (beginning in 1907) were for murals in the homes of prominent families (Rumrill 2007). These led in turn to commissions for murals or mosaics for (among others):



In 2007, the Historical Society of Cheshire County produced a full-color book about Faulkner’s achievements as a muralist, with audio recordings of the artist talking about his life (Rumrill 2007).

References

  • Behrens, Roy R. (2002), False Colors: Art, Design and Modern Camouflage. Dysart, Iowa: Bobolink Books. ISBN 0-9713244-0-9.
  • ___ (2009), Camoupedia: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage. Dysart, Iowa: Bobolink Books. ISBN 9780971324466.
  • Faulkner, Barry (1973), Sketches from an Artist’s Life. Dublin, New Hampshire: William Bauhan. ISBN 978-0872330238.
  • Rumrill, Alan F., and Carl B. Jacobs, Jr. (2007), Steps to Great Art: Barry Faulkner and the Art of the Muralist. Keene, New Hampshire: Historical Society of Cheshire County. ISBN 978-0-9724478-7-4.
  • White, Nelson C. (1951), Abbott H. Thayer: Painter and Naturalist. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Printers.


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