Progression in War

Media - 1985.65.8 - SAAM-1985.65.8_1 - 8287
Copied Patrociño Barela, Progression in War, ca. 1935-1943, carved and stained pine, 11 1471 341 14 in. (28.6182.33.2 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Transfer from the General Services Administration, 1985.65.8

Artwork Details

Progression in War
ca. 1935-1943
11 1471 341 14 in. (28.6182.33.2 cm.)
back lower right in pencil: Progression in War
Credit Line
Transfer from the General Services Administration
Mediums Description
carved and stained pine
  • Group
  • Architecture — vehicle — airplane
  • Figure group — male
  • History — United States — World War II
  • Occupation — military — soldier
  • Travel — air — parachute
  • Architecture — vehicle — tank
  • New Deal — Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project — New Mexico
  • Occupation — political — diplomat
Object Number

Artwork Description

Patrociño Barela brought the rough, “untaught” style of his carvings of saints to these reliefs, which read like storyboards describing the chaotic, violent events leading up to World War II. Like many American artists working in the 1930s, Barela saw the events unfolding in Europe and Asia and saw a new conflict on the horizon. Progression in War tells a story from left to right: from the head-to-head discussion between political leaders, to invasion by air and land, to violent confrontation between individual soldiers. War has a similar progression, and we can see a soldier raising the American flag on a battleground, a man being measured, and military aircraft in the skies.