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The art of warfare: new documentary on practical applications of art installation during WWII

Rick Beyer’s “The Ghost Army” is the story of the artists who worked to throw the German army off the scent of the real location of Allied troops

Rick Beyer’s documentary “The Ghost Army”, which recently made its debut on PBS in the US, is now out on DVD. It’s the story of the team of artists, designers and journalists (among others) who made giant inflatable and sound installations as well as performance pieces in France, Germany and Luxembourg towards the end of the Second World War. The team, which included the artist Ellsworth Kelly and the fashion star-to-be Bill Blass, was actually a top secret unit working to throw the German army off the scent of the real location of Allied troops. Also re-released on DVD by the UK’s British Film Institute is “Chronicle of a Summer”, the cinéma verité documentary from 1960 by the anthropologist and film-maker Jean Rouch and the sociologist Edgar Morin that asked car-workers, artists, students and many others the simple question: “Are you happy?” The responses are thoughtful, largely politically astute and sometimes heartbreaking.

• To buy visit: ghostarmy.org and filmstore.bfi.org.uk

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The art of warfare'