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Honoring Harold Ledyard Towle (1890-1973)

We, at Allied Artists of America, are proud to profile the career of one of our most groundbreaking founders, H. Ledyard Towle.  This American artist was born in  Brooklyn in 1890.  Believing that the trajectory of his art career would lead him in in the direction of portraiture and landscape painting, he studied at Pratt Institute and the Art Students League.

During WW I, Towel's art took a different direction. He became the camouflage artist of the 71st Infantry and this began his lifelong and satisfying career as a ground breaking camouflage artist. “I went into the war thinking that art belonged to the chosen few,” he said, “I came out knowing it belonged to every urchin in the street.”  Working in camouflage taught him about working in art with a purpose.  “I saw the futility of painting portraits to collect dust...”.  Upon returning from the war in Europe, he discovered that American Impressionism  had been replaced by the Modernism movement, which began around 1913. After a short stint with the U.S. Treasury in Washington DC,  Towle found art brought him to major corporations starting with DuPont where he cooperatively worked for DuPont and Duco Color Advisory Service in New York. One might say that Towle was a “color engineer”.  Later in the 1920s Towle moved on to General Motors where he was appointed “Chief Color Expert”. It was far less expensive for car manufacturers to color cars black but Towle explored the “color consciousness”  of the American consumers’.  A trend was set.   Towle went on to work for the Pittsburgh civilian camouf committee for which Towle was a pioneer in making facilities less vulnerable to attack by designing them to hide in shadows and breaking up shadows thereby making them harder to hit.  Towle enjoyed a most unique art career. He passed in 1973 in his retirement home in Merry Point, Virginia.

Allied Art Historian - Elaine Clayman

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