CHICAGO (CBS) — The Pritzker Military Museum & Library this week will open an exhibit showcasing the artistic career of Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Bill Mauldin and his drawn commentary on war.

“Drawn to Combat: Bill Mauldin & the Art of War” opens Friday at the museum, at 104 S. Michigan Ave. downtown.

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“We are so excited to bring Bill Mauldin’s story back to the cultural forefront and introduce his talent and satire to a new audience,” retired Illinois Army National Guard Col. Jennifer N. Pritzker – founder of the museum and a cousin of Gov. JB Pritzker – said in a news release. “The Museum & Library holds the largest collection of his artwork and with the archival items recently donated from the Bill Mauldin Estate, we can give his cultural legacy the platform and honor it deserves.”

Mauldin’s cartoons provided commentary on the world as he saw it from the end of World War II to the end of the Cold War. He drew cartoons as a soldier himself while serving in World War II, and soon became a nationally-syndicated political cartoonist.

Bill Mauldin Cartoons

“Proctor #9,” 1939 – Pen and ink on board, by Bill Mauldin. (Supplied by Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

Bill Mauldin Cartoons

“It’s either enemy or off limits,” 1944 – Pen and ink on board, by Bill Mauldin. (Supplied by Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

“His art saw him through World War II, where he used his own experiences and those of the downtrodden infantryman to present a true account of life on the front,” the museum said in a news release. “Through his characters Willie and Joe, he was able to capture the cultural nuances of life in the Army, providing comedic relief or trepidation – depending on the viewer – while simultaneously presenting the grim reality of the war to the home front.”

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Bill Mauldin Cartoons

“Them old eagles sure spoil that new uniform, Colonel,” 1947 –
Pen and ink on board, by Bill Mauldin. (Supplied by Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

Bill Mauldin Cartoons

“It’s Getting So Bad That Even People Are Complaining,” 1965 –
Pen and ink on board, by Bill Mauldin. (Supplied by Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

Upon returning to the U.S. after the war, Mauldin (1921-2003) joined the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as a political cartoonist, and then joined the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bill Mauldin Cartoons

“I’d Say He’s More Half in than Half Out,” 1970 – Pen and ink drawing, by Bill Mauldin. (Supplied by Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

Bill Mauldin Cartoons

“Let’s declare ourselves winners and get the hell out,” 1981 –
Pen and ink on paper, by Bill Mauldin. (Supplied by Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

“What makes Mauldin so unique and forward thinking is his uncanny ability to take on complicated issues – veterans affairs, segregation, the civil rights movement, healthcare, and the economic inequalities in America – and distill it into single images that force the viewer to examine their own biases,” Museum & Library Curator James Brundage said in the news release. “His images continue to be relevant because we are still grappling with these issues and themes today.”

Bill Mauldin Cartoons

“We Won!,” 1991 – Pen and ink on board, by Bill Mauldin. (Supplied by Pritzker Military Museum & Library)

“Drawn to Combat: Bill Mauldin & the Art of War” will include 125 of Mauldin’s original drawings, 35 reproduced images, and more than 20 original artifacts. The New Mexico native’s full career from 1937 – when he was learning art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago – until 1994 as he wound down his career at the Sun-Times.

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For more on the exhibit, click here.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff