Without a doubt, Dr Strangelove is an important Cold War satire — especially since the psychotic Jack D Ripper character is based on the rather scary real-world head of Strategic Air Command, Curtis LeMay.  But Toronto-based artist Kristan Horton’s obsession with Dr Strangelove is something else again…
Horton has re-created 200-odd stills from Dr Strangelove using ordinary objects — in meticulous detail. Explore them — and him! — in this feature at The Morning News, the artist’s own website (scroll down), the Wynick/Tuck Gallery, this article, at Jessica Bradley Art+Projects and the Art Gallery of York University in Toronto (where it’s currently showing). It’s also available as a book.
Horton says he’s seen Dr Strangelove more than 730 times — and it shows. What fascinates me is that the lighting and composition are perfect! Yes, it’s obsessive — but then so was Stanley Kubrick when he created the film in the first place.
A Footnote on Curtis LeMay
LeMay ran the fire-bombing campaign against Japan in World War II, estimated to have killed around a million Japanese civilians. And while it’s impossible to judge the morality of those conducting a global war some 60 years ago while I sit comfortably sipping coffee, LeMay himself once remarked that had the US lost the war he fully expected to be tried for war crimes.
In the 1950s, under Eisenhower, LeMay had the authority to order a nuclear strike without presidential authorization if the president could not be contacted. That option was extended down to General Thomas Powers, head of SAC, whom LeMay himself described as “not stable” and a “sadist.” LeMay’s proposal for a nuclear first strike and massive destruction of the Soviets was thwarted by Eisenhower, whom LeMay came to consider as indecisive. He was even more disgusted with Kennedy, whom LeMay believed to be a coward. LeMay talked openly about a preemptive attack in which one hundred million people would be killed.
It was LeMay who proposed escalating the bombing of North Vietnam, coining the immortal phrase “bomb them back into the Stone Age.”
Dig, and you’ll find a lot, lot more…