Living Photographs

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Arthur Mole and John Thomas, Living Flag, 1917.

Here is an interesting take on the flag and patriotism by Arthur S. Mole and John S. Thomas.

During and after WW I, Mole and Thomas created what they termed “Living Photographs” by arranging thousands of soldiers to create patriotic symbols and photographing them from above. Working with an 11 X 14 inch view camera Mole and Thomas spent a week or so preparing for these immense works. First sketching onto the ground glass and then making a map on the ground that helped determine the number of soldiers needed to create the photograph. The Hammer gallery in Chicago recently had a show of their works.

Check out Cabinet Magazine for an article by Louis Kaplan, Associate professor of history and Theory at the University of Toronto.

Photographs by Mole and Thomas are in the collections of the Chicago Historical Society, the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress.

Liberty Bell
Arthur Mole and John Thomas, The Human Liberty Bell, 1918.
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Arthur Mole and John Thomas, Living Uncle Sam, 1919

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1 Response to “Living Photographs”


  1. 1 Benjamin Halanski June 8, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Naval Station Great Lakes is preparing to update the “Living Flag of 1917” on Flag Day 2010 with sailors from this generation.


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