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 .
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?!? 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: The world of fashion and set design was seduced by it’s visual dynamic: