Monday, May 9, 2011

Architectural Camouflage in WW2

Cover of Architecture in Uniform. Canadian Centre for Architecture, 2011.

From Jean-Louis Cohen, Architecture in Uniform: Designing and Building for the Second World War. Book and exhibition at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Montreal 2011) from April 13 through September 18, 2011—

During the Second World War, architects almost completely supplanted painters in the field of camouflage. Studies into the technique had continued uninterrupted since 1918, and camouflage departments now occupied an important place in all the armed forces. more>>>

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Edward Wadsworth | Camouflage

Wadsworth in process of painting (1919)
What a glorious find! In an old issue of the New York Herald on April 20, 1919 (p. 13), we've located a news photo of British Vorticist painter Edward Wadsworth (1889-1949), poised on a stepladder, in process of painting his famous large-scale painting of camouflaged ships, called Dazzle-ship in Drydock at Liverpool (1919), now in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. The news caption reads as follows—

Mr. Ernest Wadsworth [sic], a British artist, paints a portrait of a camouflaged ship which is a study in Cubism. Mr. Wadsworth, during the war, was in charge of ship camouflaging at Bristol and Liverpool, where he designed the futurist coat in which disguise the Aquitania eluded U-boats.

Not only is the artist misnamed, the facts are probably also skewed. Wadsworth had been handpicked by British head camoufleur Norman Wilkinson to supervise not the design of ship camouflage but the painting of the ships. For the most part, he followed prepared diagrams that were designed, tested and distributed by a small team of artists under Wilkinson's supervision. For further information, see the "Edward Wadsworth" entry in Camoupedia: A Compendium of Research on Art, Architecture and Camouflage (2009).