This month, five lucky readers have the chance to win a copy of Dazzle: disguise and disruption in war and art by James Taylor, courtesy of Casemate.
Dazzle painting, also known as dazzle camouflage, was conceived and developed in 1917 by the celebrated marine artist and then naval commander Norman Wilkinson.
Dazzle rejected concealment in favour of disruption. It sought to break up a ship’s silhouette with brightly contrasting geometric designs, making a vessel’s speed and direction incredibly difficult to discern, This helped to deceive and confuse U-boat torpedo-men.
Wilkinson’s scheme led to several thousand ships (mainly from Europe, the USA, and Canada) going to sea covered in abstract, clashing, decorative, geometric designs in myriad colours. At this time, they were the largest painted modernist ‘canvasses’ in the world.
Wilkinson, however, was conservative rather than an avant-garde artist, and this new book explores what really influenced the development of dazzle camouflage.
It explores the history of the dazzle aesthetic in theory and in practice, and looks at the impact that dazzle had on artistic movements, such as Cubism, Futurism, and Vorticism.
Through an examination of original archival documents, it offers some fresh perspectives on the origins, principles, and implementation of dazzle painting and competing camouflage schemes.