Alan Moore (war artist)

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Alan Moore
War artist Alan Moore (AWM image 061535).png
Alan Moore in 1943
Born(1914-08-01)1 August 1914
Melbourne, Australia
Died24 September 2015(2015-09-24) (aged 101)
Ballarat, Australia
Occupation War artist, artist, art teacher
Known forDrawings, photographs, paintings of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp

Alan Moore (1 August 1914 24 September 2015) was an Australian war artist during World War II. He is best known for his images of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, [1] [2] and the Australian War Memorial holds many of his works.

Australian official war artists

Australian official war artists are those who have been expressly employed by either the Australian War Memorial (AWM) or the Army Military History Section. These artist soldiers depicted some aspect of war through art; this might be a pictorial record or it might commemorate how war shapes lives.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Bergen-Belsen concentration camp Nazi concentration camp

Bergen-Belsen[ˈbɛʁɡn̩.bɛlsn̩], or Belsen, was a Nazi concentration camp in what is today Lower Saxony in northern Germany, southwest of the town of Bergen near Celle. Originally established as a prisoner of war camp, in 1943, parts of it became a concentration camp. Initially this was an "exchange camp", where Jewish hostages were held with the intention of exchanging them for German prisoners of war held overseas. The camp was later expanded to accommodate Jews from other concentration camps.


Early life

Moore was born in Melbourne in 1914. [3] He began life drawing art classes at age 16, but was forbidden by his father from continuing because the subjects were nude. He took up his studies again when he turned 18, at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, this time completing his studies to obtain a degree. [4] He also studied under J.S. Watkins in Sydney. [5] [6] [7]

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 2,080 km2 (800 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of 5 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

Nude (art) work of art that has as its primary subject the unclothed human body

The nude figure is a tradition in Western art, and has been used to express ideals of male and female beauty and other human qualities. It was a central preoccupation of Ancient Greek art, and after a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages returned to a central position in Western art with the Renaissance. Athletes, dancers, and warriors are depicted to express human energy and life, and nudes in various poses may express basic or complex emotions such as pathos. In one sense, a nude is a work of fine art that has as its primary subject the unclothed human body, forming a subject genre of art, in the same way as landscapes and still life. Unclothed figures often also play a part in other types of art, such as history painting, including allegorical and religious art, portraiture, or the decorative arts.

The National Gallery of Victoria Art School, associated with the National Gallery of Victoria, was a private fine arts college founded in 1867. It was the leading centre for academic art training in Australia until about 1910. Among its luminaries, the school was headed by Sir William Dargie in 1946–1953., John Brack from 1962–68, and Lenton Parr from 1968 to its absorption into the newly created Victorian College of the Arts.

He won several art and drawing prizes in Melbourne, [4] including the Grace Joel scholarship prize in 1942 for a nude painting. [8]

Grace Jane Joel was a New Zealand artist best known for her ability as a portraitist and figure painter.

On 14 July 1939 [9] Moore married this first wife, Maria. [4]


During the war

Moore's portrayal of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after it was liberated. Holocaust horror, blind man walking through the Belsen concentration camp.jpg
Moore's portrayal of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp after it was liberated.

Moore enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1942, where he was tasked with drawing airplane diagrams. [3] A problem with one leg prevented him from being aircrew. [4] In late 1943, following recommendations from artists William Dargie and Harold Herbert, he was commissioned as an official war artist attached to the army, and given the rank of lieutenant. [3] [10]

Royal Australian Air Force Air warfare branch of Australias armed forces

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), formed in March 1921, is the aerial warfare branch of the Australian Defence Force (ADF). It operates the majority of the ADF's fixed wing aircraft, although both the Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy also operate aircraft in various roles. It directly continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps (AFC), formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF provides support across a spectrum of operations such as air superiority, precision strikes, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, air mobility, space surveillance, and humanitarian support.

Aircrew personnel operating an aircraft in flight, including pilots, systems operators, and attendants

Aircrew, also called flight crew, are personnel who operate an aircraft while in flight. The composition of a flight's crew depends on the type of aircraft, plus the flight's duration and purpose.

William Dargie Australian painter

Captain Sir William Alexander Dargie was a renowned Australian painter, known especially for his portrait paintings. He won the Archibald Prize, Australia's premier award for portrait artists on eight separate occasions; a record held since 1952.

Moore's first deployment as an artist was with the RAAF in Papua New Guinea in early 1944. His earlier watercolour paintings, made in Milne Bay and Goodenough Island, were destroyed by wet weather and humidity; he subsequently changed to working with oils, which were more suitable for the tropical environment. [3] [11]

New Guinea campaign part of the Pacific Theater of World War II

The New Guinea campaign of the Pacific War lasted from January 1942 until the end of the war in August 1945. During the initial phase in early 1942, the Empire of Japan invaded the Australian-administered territories of the New Guinea Mandate and Papua and overran western New Guinea, which was a part of the Netherlands East Indies. During the second phase, lasting from late 1942 until the Japanese surrender, the Allies—consisting primarily of Australian and US forces—cleared the Japanese first from Papua, then the Mandate and finally from the Dutch colony.

Watercolor painting Type of painting method using water-based solutions

Watercolor or watercolour, also aquarelle, is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution. Watercolor refers to both the medium and the resulting artwork. Aquarelles painted with water-soluble colored ink instead of modern water colors are called "aquarellum atramento" by experts. However, this term has been more and more passing out of use.

Milne Bay bay of the Solomon Sea on the coast of New Guinea

Milne Bay is a large bay in Milne Bay Province, south-eastern Papua New Guinea. More than 35 kilometres long and over 15 kilometres wide, Milne Bay is a sheltered deep-water harbor accessible via Ward Hunt Strait. It is surrounded by the heavily wooded Stirling Range to the north and south, and on the northern shore, a narrow coastal strip, soggy with sago and mangrove swamps. The bay is named after Sir Alexander Milne.

During his time in Papua New Guinea he flew in several bombing raids to make sketches from the air. [12] [13]

Towards the end of World War II, he recorded war scenes from Papua New Guinea, the Middle East, Italy, England and Germany. [2] [14]

In 1945 Moore accompanied the British 11th Armoured Division when they liberated the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. [4] He spent three days sketching and painting the state of the camp, its prisoners and their captors, including Fritz Klein. [1] [14] It was suggested by one soldier that nobody would believe the portrayals, prompting Moore to also photograph the scenes as proof. [4] [15]

After the war

After the war Moore spent some years in Europe. [6] He eventually returned to Melbourne, [4] where he taught painting at Swinburne Technical College from c.1963. [6] [7] Moore also painted images from his Belsen sketches and photographs. They were exhibited commercially, but failed to sell. [15] The Australian War Memorial initially rejected the material because it did not depict Australian soldiers; however it accepted them in 1969 when they were donated by Moore. [14] [16] In 201314 the Belsen images formed the basis of a year-long exhibition at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, which Moore himself visited at the invitation of the Memorial. [11] [15]

The War Memorial also commissioned Moore to paint several large portraits, including of Generals Douglas MacArthur and Arthur Samuel Allen. [3] [17] As of 2015 the War Memorial holds more than 200 of his works. [2]

Later life

Moore continued to paint at his studio in Avoca until he was 95, stopped by arthritis and failing vision. At about the same time he moved into a nursing home in Avoca. [4]

He died on 24 September 2015, survived by his third wife, Alison. [18] [4]

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  1. 1 2 "Alan Moore: Australian war artist who drew horrors of Nazi concentration camp dies in Victoria". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 "Bergen-Belsen war artist Alan Moore dead at 101". The Canberra Times. 25 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Alan Moore". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Emily Bissland (26 September 2014). "Alan Moore: WWII artist turns 100". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  5. "Moore, Alan (b. 1914)". Canadian Museum of History. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 "Alan Moore". McMurray Galleries. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  7. 1 2 "Alan Moore (1915-.) Australia". Australian Art Auction Record. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  8. "Art prize won by technical college student". The Argus. Melbourne, Victoria. 18 December 1942. p. 3. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  9. "I heard and saw". The Argus. Melbourne, Victoria. 10 July 1946. p. 11 S. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  10. "Alan Moore: the compassionate observer". Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  11. 1 2 Second World War Official War Alan Moore visits the Australian War Memorial. Australian War Memorial. 19 March 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  12. "Putting the R.A.A.F. on canvas". Western Mail. Perth, Western Australia. 25 May 1944. p. 7. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  13. "R.A.A.F Beauforts make their biggest daylight strike". Townsville Daily Bulletin. Queensland. 28 January 1944. p. 1. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 Siobhan Heanue (26 February 2014). "World War II artist Alan Moore makes pilgrimage to Australian War Memorial to view Holocaust works". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  15. 1 2 3 Scott Bevan (11 April 2015). "The lifelong friendship of a WWII artist and the girl he met in Belsen". The Australian Financial Review Magazine. Fairfax Media Publications. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  16. David Ellery (16 March 2013). "War artist's powerful images of Holocaust at War Memorial". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  17. "Generals MacArthur and Allen at Owers' Corner". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 27 September 2015.
  18. "Alan MOORE". The Age. Fairfax Media. 26 September 2015. Retrieved 27 September 2015.