The Crack Up by Corporal Wayne Seese

4 April 2013 - 11:58am by Susan Wheeler


 Wayne Seese U.S.A. 1918-1980         

   The Crack Up, c.1946


Bequest of Clements C. Fry 1955

“Combat Art,” created by designated soldier artists, was widely exhibited during World War II and also illustrated popular publications such as LIFE magazine.   

Clements C. Fry, Yale psychiatrist and collector, purchased this drawing in 1946 after having seen it in an exhibition in  Washington, D.C., where he served on the National Research Council. 

On request, the artist Corporal Wayne Seese provided a description:

     The “Crack Up” came from a scene I witnessed on the island of New Britain, after the Cape Gloucester campaign….One night as we sat in our tent, Bedlam broke out across the street at sick bay.  Rushing over there, we came upon the scene I have put down on paper.

     Yelling, sobbing, and talking, the kid was held down by a couple of his buddies while the doctor prepared a sedative.  The scene was pretty weird with hundreds of fellows drawn by morbid curiosity standing in the darkness….

     The kid was a rugged looking boy about nineteen or twenty, a messman at the time.  He stepped out of his tent and in the darkness ran into a tree and went to pieces.  Rumor was that he had just received a letter that both his mother & father were killed in an accident, but I don’t know.

Wayne Seese served with the First Marine Division in the South Pacific campaign

“The Crack Up” is on view through April 11, 2013.