Sunday, September 11, 2011

Cubism Meets Camouflage

John French Sloan, Cubist Cartoon (1913)

It is usually claimed that cubism began around 1907 in Paris, but it was not widely introduced to the American public until 1913, when an International Exhibition of Modern Art (known as the Armory Show) premiered in New York from February 15 to March 15, then traveled on to Boston and Chicago. On the day after its opening, a headline in the Magazine Section of the New York Times read “Cubists and Futurists Are Making Insanity Pay.” Cartoons and jokes about cubism became epidemic, as in this example by American artist John French Sloan (1871-1951), first published in 1913. Throughout World War I, cubism, futurism, vorticism and camouflage  (dazzle ship camouflage in particular) were said to be related, and were all commonly compared to crazy quilt patterns, harlequin outfits, aerial views of cultivated land forms, and the hallucinations of absinthe drinkers.