Friday, September 6, 2013

Review of Coutin Camouflage Book

Pages from the WWI notebook of André Mare (1916)
LAST APRIL IN a blog post here, we shared our excitement about a new book by French historian Cécile Countin on WWI French camouflage, titled Tromper l'ennemi: L'invention du camouflage moderne en 1914-1918 (Paris: Éditions Pierre de Taillac, 2012). We couldn't review it, as much as we wanted to, because the text is entirely in French. Nonetheless, we have greatly benefited from it because it is a rich array of French camouflage artifacts from that era, with exquisite full-color images of posters, magazine illustrations, camoufleurs' sketchbook drawings—you name it—along with scores of black-and-white wartime photographs, many of which have presumably never been published before. Reproduced above, for example, is a page spread from the notebook of French army camoufleur André Mare, showing 1916 photographs of camouflage-painted cannons.

In recent days, a review of Coutin's book has been published online. It was written by American historian E. Malcolm Parkinson (associate professor emeritus of history at Worchester Polytechnic Institute), whose article on "The Artist at War: Painters, Muralists, Sculptors, Architects Worked to Provide Camouflage for Troops in World War I" we blogged about a year ago. Now, Parkinson's review of the Coutin book can be accessed on the web at Leonardo Reviews >>more