Aviation Art – An Appraisal

Aviation Art is sometimes frowned upon as not being a true art form, merely illustration by people interested in the subject and aimed at aviation enthusiasts who wish to buy an aeroplane print only This is a little inconvenient as it is the only art form that can show a true vista of air, land…

Aviation Art is sometimes frowned upon as not being a true art form, merely illustration by people interested in the subject and aimed at aviation enthusiasts who wish to buy an aeroplane print only

This is a little inconvenient as it is the only art form that can show a true vista of air, land and sea with an aircraft or balloon painting being able to take in landscape, aerial or marine painting as well as recording the aircraft.

Aviation paintings also serve as an important historical document of 20th Century History as much of the world we know now was formed by the aerial warfare of WWI and WWII. While paintings of WWI battles were seen during the war it was not until WWII that the role of the war aviation artist came about with Frank Wooton and Terence Cuneo being the two most prolific. Indeed, both names became stalwarts after the war too.

It is, of course, not just warfare that aviation art has played a part in recording, the trailblazing of events and people such as the first crossing of the Atlantic by Alcock & Brown in 1919 and of Charles Lindberg in 1927 being examples of important events that have benefited from the art form.

Posters depicting aviation were also of the utmost importance as with the birth of civil aviation a new genre of aviation art was born, in conjunction with the style pervading in those days of Art Deco. These works are much recognized and collected in their original forms creating a lasting nationality of the beginnings of commercial air travel.

The genre can be split into various categories, with the main differences lying in which the artist wishes to record the historical event and aircraft in great detail as no such picture exists or in looser styles to show the speed, grace and power of aircraft in general . There are those artists who can achieve both and it is these artists, I would suggest, that push Aviation art as far as it can go. Artists such as Robert Taylor, Nicholas Trudgian, Roger Murray and Ronald Wong sit very much in the first group, while in those that push boundaries are those such as Wooton and Cuneo, Roger Middlebrook, Anthony Cowland and Michael Turner

The mediums that can be used in aviation art include Oil, Acrylic, Watercolour and Pencil. Sculpture is sometimes seen but is rather limited by the size and complexity of the subject.

In review aviation art does have an important social role to play and while interest in it may have diminished from its heyday of forty years ago there is little to detract from its usefulness at recording social change in the years since 1903 and the Wright's first flight.