In Razzle 1. and Razzle-Dazzle 2. I outlined the history of this counter-intuitive ‘opposite’ to camouflage, a technique to visually confuse the enemy when attempting to ‘sight’ missiles.

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A gorgeous image of a freighter resplendent in dazzle livery

In this post I’ll take a look at dazzles visual legacy in the wider world of art and design where it’s continued to enjoy favour with a range of artists and designers long after it’s original use expired as radar technology advanced and made visual range-finding redundant .

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Painting the dazzle effect…

The abstract patterns in dazzle camouflage inspired many artists. Picasso was reported to have taken credit for the modern camouflage experiments which seemed to him a quintessentially Cubist technique. He is reported to have drawn the connection in a conversation with Gertrude Stein shortly after he first saw a painted cannon trundling through the streets of Paris. Edward Wadsworth, who supervised dazzle camouflage painting in the war, created a series of canvases after the war based on his dazzle work on ships. A selection of his images can be seen here:

Even the scouts go in on the act and provided advise on right and wrong camouflage?!? 051 In the wider world of design dazzle has remained a potent visual style. It’s used both practically – to visually discombobulate  commercial spies when trialling new car designs – and formally as striking surface decoration on everything from buildings to bi-planes, from canoes to bars and from London buses to football boots, as the following gallery shows:

Dazzle was used to startling effect in this fleet of paper boats: 47ba1c333ba42014d076cc159e872aee The world of fashion and set design was seduced by it’s visual dynamic:

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