Daily Art Moment: Victor Jorgensen

A black-and-white photograph of three light-skinned, young men. The central figure sits on a doctor’s examination table, turned three quarters to the left while having plaster applied to his left arm. He stares off to the left, his hair spikey and messy, his facial expression somber. He is shirtless and having his arm, crooked at the elbow, set from shoulder to fingers in a plaster cast. Excess plaster is slathered and splattered on his neck, chest, and stomach. He wears a band on the ring finger of this left hand. At left, another young man is seen from the side, his head bent slightly forward, light from above cast on his face. He is using a cloth on the patient’s arm. He has dark short hair, wears a loose-fitting shirt with the sleeves rolled up. At right, another young man is cutting away the rough edge of the plaster on the patient’s shoulder. This man sits on the table with the patient, his back to us, the sleeves cut off his shirt, a small white cap on his head. The background shows a supply cabinet and bunks. Light streams down from the top right corner of the photo.

#MemorialDay, a solemn American holiday, commemorates those who have died while on active military duty. The central figure of this photograph, taken on board the naval hospital ship USS Solace by Portland’s own Victor Jorgensen during WWII, later succumbed to his battle wounds: According to Jorgensen, ‘Pfc. A. Check of London, Kentucky, caught machine gun slugs in the left shoulder and upper arm during the Okinawa assault, resulting in a compound fracture of the upper arm. Lieutenant Commander Wayne S. Hanson (back to camera) puts a cast on the shoulder and arm with the help of Steve Koreff, Pharmacist Mate Second Class (left). A year after this photograph was made, the boy’s mother wrote me a letter, reporting that young Check had died in a Guam hospital from the effects of the wound, though it hardly seemed dangerous at the time.’ “

Julia Dolan, The Minor White Curator of Photography

Victor Jorgensen (American, 1914–1994). Untitled (Lt. Commander Wayne S. Hanson puts a cast on the shoulder and arm of patient), 1945. Gelatin silver print. Gift of Victoria Jorgensen Carman and Lee Jorgensen, 2019.79.46

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