The Gaze of a G.I. Photographer

Roger Marshutz self-portrait in mirror
Roger Marshutz, self-portrait, PM 2003.17.3010

Although Marshutz started out as an ordinary soldier, his photographic skills were soon recognized, and he became a photographer for the U.S. Army's Public Information Office. In war photography, the most celebrated images tend to be those of conflict and combat. These documentary photographs by Marshutz, however, are noteworthy because they reveal the more subtle social, economic, and cultural effects of war. As an outsider, Marshutz was not in a position to enter the interior spaces of Koreans, so the focus of his images is on the electric pace of life on the streets of Pusan.  Nevertheless, the portraits on display here offer glimpses of the more human aspects of the war and reveal a tentative, curious, and at times friendly interaction between photographer and subjects—especially the children.

As seen in these images, Marshutz’s work is distinguished by powerful and dynamic diagonal compositions, with both the subjects and the photographs themselves framed by strong vertical and horizontal lines.  Marshutz became a professional photographer working in Los Angeles.