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Artist Biography

In June 1919, Warner was completing his tour of duty in World War I, where he directed the U.S. Naval Camouflage Department’s subsection of design. Drawing upon his artistic reputation and training, he developed innovative distortion camouflage patterns for naval warships, intended to misdirect torpedo attacks by creating optical illusions. During the final days of his commission, Warner looked ahead to his imminent return to work as an artist, devising an assignment to paint naval planes in flight—a project that also allowed him to make sketches of New York from the air that he could use once back in his painting studio. Warner completed several dozen sketches (which he asserted were the first completed during actual flight) from the open cockpit of a U.S. Navy seaplane assigned to the project, using them as the basis for his finished compositions. According to notes he made for a later exhibition, the artist found working from the seaplane surprisingly easy, crouching down to avoid the wind and experiencing less vibration than he would have encountered in a boat or train.  The artist’s remarkable observational skills allowed him to quickly render not only the specifics of what he saw before him, but also to capture the elusive (and to most people at the time, exotic) sensation of being in flight. Warner’s fluid and assured use of the pastel medium draws upon the familiarity with impressionist techniques he gained while working alongside masters like Hassam, Metcalf, and others in the formative years of the Old Lyme, Connecticut art colony of which he was an early member.

Warner’s works are in a number of prestigious public and private collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, DC; the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia; the Florence Griswold Museum, Old Lyme, Connecticut; the St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri; the National Academy of Design, the Museum of the City of New York, the New-York Historical Society and the National Arts Club, New York; the Princeton University Art Museum, New Jersey, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among numerous others.

References:

Fusscas, A World Observed, pp. 19-21, 40