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HUMAN DECENCY DURING WAR "BEYOND BRADY": Photography in the Civil War Era, Pamplin Historical Park, 6125 Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg. The interactive exhibit features more than 130 artifacts and images covering all aspects of photography during the mid-1800s. Runs through September 2009. Adults, $15; senior citizens, $13.50; ages 6-12, $9. 877/726-7546, pamplinpark.org. page 2

 Artist Mort K^BENT^00FC^EENT^nstler's 'My Friend, the Enemy' depicts Civil War soldiers from opposite sides sharing their meager supplies. The scene is downriver from Fredericksburg.
K^BENT^00FC^EENT^nstler Enterprises Ltd.
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Date published: 11/8/2008


As usual, Künstler's composition is remarkable and his brilliant use of line and light draws the viewer's eye around the canvas. The perspective is looking west, just as the battered silhouette of Fredericksburg is being swallowed up by a brilliant sunset.

In a telephone interview, the artist explained the mind-set behind his creation of this contemplative scene. Künstler said: "I have wanted to do a piece that simply focused on the common soldier for a while. I look at myself like a baseball pitcher. When you expect a fastball, they throw you a curve. I had just completed several day scenes that featured prominent military officers in action, and wanted to paint something different."

He added: "This piece was a complete departure from those themes. Here I chose to use a sunset, with subtle movement, and feature 'regular Joes.'"

His studio, Künstler Enterprises Ltd., is in Oyster Bay, N.Y., and he has painted more than 5,000 images throughout his career. Prints of his work are priced from $225 to $3,200, and original paintings command as much as $100,000. This newest painting, like all of his work, required considerable research in order to produce an accurate depiction.

For this pictorial study, the painter traveled to areas on the Rappahannock River that were shallow and fordable. He consulted maps as well as photographs of the city's original buildings and bridge columns. The weather is also an essential ingredient in these scenes, and he noted the placement of the sun to enhance the accurate skyline.

Künstler explained the process. "I always try to visit the exact location, whenever possible," he said. "I do my best to schedule these trips during the same season, and time of the day or night. That way I can see what the sky, trees and lighting was like."

Originality is also a major factor in Künstler's work, and he has been applauded over the years for tackling rarely portrayed subject matter and integrating extremely complex imagery. These include horse-drawn artillery caissons, steam locomotive engines and Victorian streetscapes that appear to leap from the canvas.

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WHAT: Mort Künstler print signing for "My Friend, the Enemy" WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 15, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. WHERE: VFW Post 3103, 2701 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg INFORMATION: King James Galleries, 888/217-1865