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