Reed had been painting insects on scraps of ivory for some time, but he wanted to expand: Reasoning that people in most historic paintings are reduced to the scale of ants, he sought to grant the insects themselves the status which artists of grand tableaux had for so long conferred upon people.

What began as an experiment with small, intimate depictions of horrific battles in which ants were sent flying by explosions or skewered by an onslaught of bayonets expanded to become one of the artist's most far-reaching motifs.

The history of western ant closely parallelled that of western man, as Reed's ants endured war, slavery and the travails of global and biblical politics with the same hapless stoicism as their human counterparts, forever playing second fiddle to the handsomely, painstakingly wrought action, scenery and - as was often the case with meticulous historic artists - drapery.

NB: This online collection will be expanded shortly. Please see our note soliciting your contributions on the CONTACT page.


Antwriter, ca. 1967 (Joseph Reed)
Battle of Little Big Horn, ca. 1969 (Richard and Iris Slotkin)
Monument to Yuri Gagarin, ca. 1969 (Kit Reed)
Naval battle: Bonhomme Richard and Serapis, ca. 1969 (John Basinger)
Barney Oldfield wins at Brooklands, 1969 (Mack Reed)
The opening of Burbank Airport, ca. 1969 (Joseph Reed)
Tower of Babel, ca. 1967 (Joseph Reed)
The death of Bonnie and Clyde, ca. 1967 (Kit Reed)
The filming of Intolerance, 1967 (Kit Reed)
Auto wreck, 1971 (Mack Reed)