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“Victory Girls” by Albert Tucker Essay

In 1943 Albert Tucker painted ‘Victory Girls’, a very odd, gruesome reflection of society at that time. It was a feature in a series known as the Images Of Modern Evil painted in the space of 1943 – 1947.

‘Victory Girls’ is an oil on canvas artwork. The paint is applied thick and in long strokes, and is especially noticeable in the sky and clothes of the figures. Patches of paint has been used to distinguish the light reflections. The painting is of four figures, two of them are young women, half dressed and wearing striped skirts. The girls are painted in such a way that their humanity is barely visible. Their curved, red, distorted mouths soon became a regular ‘symbol’ for Tucker. This crescent shaped mouth soon became an image that became a symbol for women that he used. These young girls are being held by two pig like men who represented the American soldiers. Behind them a small patch of the sky and the ground is visible in very dark, dreary colours.

The four figures take up most of the frame, and no other objects can be really seen. Most of the painting has very curved shapes, apart from the girl’s triangular mouths and patchwork on the ground. Apart from that most of the features of the clothes are very simple and curved.

Colour has been used symbolically in this painting, with the blue, red and white of the girls dresses representing the American flag. The girls are the most colourful in the painting, standing out from the rest, which is very drab and dull. The soldiers are dressed in their dark olive green uniforms.

The foreground is made of the figures, and only a small portion of the background is visible. Part of the painting has been left unfinished, in one of the hands of the left soldier, as you can see only a pencil sketch of the hand can be seen.

The mood is very strange and kind of freaky. It’s not a place or scene that you would really want to be in, and the people themselves look scary and dangerous. The grotesque soldiers bring with them a sense that they have been drinking and taking advantage of the streets that they are visiting. The focal point would have to be the faces of the people and the bright patriotic US coloured skirts. The bold colours stand out from the dark background behind them. Along with this are the red mouths of the girls.

Tucker painted ‘Victory Girls’ as a representation of what he thought of the American soldiers and the young girls eager to go out and have fun with them. He saw this as a great ‘moral decay’ because of all the sleazy things that were happening around him,

“They came out of wartime Melbourne. I remember a newspaper story about girls in a back alley, with some diggers, doing a strip-tease for them- great old fun and games. This was part of the image stockpiled in my mind.”

US soldiers were constantly on the streets and in the pubs and hangouts of Melbourne during their war time break. They used to intrude and anger the local Australians and Tucker watched this happen and ended up producing many artworks based on how the society was changing for the worse.

Tucker was influenced by the German Expressionism and Surrealism and he had used this as inspiration for his own works. Victory Girls could be classified under both Instrumentalism (because of its reflection of society and people) and also Expressionism (the unique symbols and way it was painted.)


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