James Taylor (former curator of paintings at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich UK), featuring one of the woodcuts of dazzle-painted ships by Vorticist Edward Wadsworth. The book, titled Dazzle: Disguise and Disruption in War and Art, won't be available until mid-September 2016, but it can be pre-ordered now on Amazon, on both US and UK sites. Unprecedented in its detail, it is a significant new account of the development of dazzle ship camouflage in World World War I. The following is the publisher's note on its contents—
While it is a constant throughout history that conflict has inspired and
engendered great art, it is a much rarer event for art to impact
directly upon the vicissitudes of war. Yet, in the course of the First
World War, a collision of naval strategy and the nascent modern art
movement, led to some two thousand British ships going to sea as the
largest painted modernist “canvases” in the world covered in abstract,
clashing, decorative, and geometric designs in a myriad of colors.
Dazzle camouflage had arrived.
Heavily inspired by the Cubism and
British Vorticism art movements, dazzle was conceived and developed by
celebrated artist and then naval commander Norman Wilkinson. Dazzle
camouflage rejects concealment in favor of disruption. It seeks to break
up a ship’s silhouette with brightly contrasting geometric designs to
make a vessel’s speed and direction incredibly difficult to discern.
False painted bow-waves and sterns were used to confuse and throw off
the deadly U-boat captains. The high contrast shapes and colors further
made it very difficult to match up a ship in the two halves of an
optical naval rangefinder. This new book traces the development of the
dazzle aesthetic from theory into practice and beyond.