Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011

War has saturated the culture. Artists register the effects of conflict, even when not making direct reference to it. Art provides an immediate outlet for reflection and serves as a lasting record that just might provide some guidance (or solace) for the future. The 1995 painting by Susan Crile that appears on the cover, part of a series that includes work shown in “Theater of Operations,” accomplishes a bit of both. Crile’s depiction of a Kuwaiti oil field aflame, based on firsthand observation, is a primary document of a catastrophe nearly three decades past. It is also, I fear, a searing image of the present.

—William S. Smith, editor of Art in America

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