Thursday, January 7, 2016

Women's Dazzle-Painting Team at NYPL

Above and below are public domain news photographs (1918), showing members of the Women's Reserve Camouflage Corps applying dazzle camouflage to a tank that has been placed in front of the New York Public Library. In the first photograph, the high contrast disruptive shapes are beginning to be evident. In the photo directly below that (apparently taken earlier), one of the tricks of the trade is revealed: they are marking in the boundaries of the colors with white chalk, a method that was commonly used by the teams who painted camouflaged ships.


Anon, ANOTHER KIND OF CAMOUFLAGE, in Popular Science, November 1918, p. 18—

In war work, as in nature, there are two kinds of camouflage coloration: one is designed to make the camouflaged object harder to distinguish from its surroundings, the other to make it even more conspicuous than it would otherwise be. The latter, however, in war work is restricted to objects used for recruiting purposes. The ocean-going freighters at anchor in the North River, off Manhattan Island, or in any other large harbor, are examples of the first kind. The [object in the three photographs shown here] is an example of the second, undergoing its camouflage painting at the hands of members of the Camouflage Corps of the National League for Women’s Service.

The tank stands in front of the New York Public Library. The young women at work in overalls are making its surface a crazy-quilt of the most violent and incongruous colors imaginable—colors that command the attention of every passer-by. The object is to aid recruiting for the tank service.

The effigy topping the tank’s turret, which seems to be a cross between a puma and a Teddy bear, was put there to make it harder—to overlook the tank.


ANON, Women War Workers of the World, in The Touchstone and American Art Student Magazine (New York) Vol 3 (1918), pp. 513-514—

The National League for Women’s Service has recently inaugurated a Woman’s Reserve Camouflage Corps. Although the course is unofficial, it is the aim of the corps to be of service to the Government at home and abroad. This division of women’s service is yet too young to have accomplished notable results, although they have helped, under Henry Reuterdahl’s supervision, in painting the land battleship Recruit in Union Square, camouflaged the tank in front of the Public Library, New York City, painted trench tables so that they look like the land and shrubs all around them, and painted snipers’ suits for men to wear when creeping among the rocks and bushes.