Daniel Francis "Bud" Counihan, from the Evening World Daily Magazine, February 23, 1918.
Thursday, February 25, 2021
Saturday, February 20, 2021
By September of 1939, six months after [French artist Fernand] Léger’s return to Paris, France was again at war with Germany. Early on, the war was more theory than fact: only half worried, Léger wrote Sara Murphy in October that thanks to friends in high places, he might be appointed director of camouflage, or perhaps minister of propaganda in a neutral country, and in December he let her know that he was still awaiting the call to camouflage France. In another six months, though, German troops advancing from Flanders had forced him to join the panicked crowds fleeing south. Writing to the Murphys from Vichy in September, he said, “If I manage to get to you, I will tell you about our departure…life on the road and the battle of trains,” on a more upbeat note adding, “If nothing else works out, then one could camouflage American airplanes, boats, clouds, Radio City etc.” The ever dependable Murphys had already cabled him funds, and Léger’s last American expedition was underway.
Alexander Liberman, The Artist in His Studio. New York: Viking Press, 1968—
Léger wore a checkered shirt, and the violent patterns of his clothes against the violent pattern of his paintings made him seem like a chameleon.
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Above Bedroom shoes given by Abraham Lincoln to the proprietor of the famous Willard Hotel in Washington DC. These are the slippers that Lincoln wore when he stayed at that hotel during his inaugural. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, c1985. Image courtesy Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection online here.
President Lincoln's bedroom slippers
In March 1918, the two ballrooms at the Willard Hotel were transformed by members of the American Camouflage Corps, stationed at American University Camp, in preparation for a fundraising Camouflage Ball, to be held on Wednesday evening, March 6.
The hotel’s large ballroom was given the appearance of “a quaint French village,” while the smaller one became a “sunny street in Italy.” The artists who designed all this were “past masters in the art of scene painting. When they get to France [to serve as wartime camoufleurs] they will fool [the enemy] into believing there are things where they aren’t but just at present they’re busy in making the Willard ballroom look like anything but a ballroom.”
ENGLISH FACTORY GIRLS CAMOUFLAGE SHOES in Los Angeles Evening Express, January 2, 1918—
London, Jan. 2—Girl workers in the danger buildings at Woolwich arsenal are not allowed to wear jewelry. They have therefore hit on the idea of wearing colored shoe laces.
The Cap Shop girls appeared one morning with bright emerald green ribbons on their shoes, much to the envy of other departments. The next morning the whole factory was in the fashion, says the principal supervisor.
Shoes were tied with blue, pink, red, white ribbons; with anything but the government boot lace of untanned leather. The fashion spread to the office and women clerks paraded the platform during the dinner hour with resplendent shoe laces.
Sunday, February 14, 2021
|Gertrude Hoffman as Salomé|
LACK OF CAMOUFLAGE BY DANCER SHOCKS: Gertrude Hoffman Asks Church People If They Expect Portrayal of Greek Nymph in Overcoat and Galoshes in Oregon Daily Journal (Portland OR), November 8, 1917—
Chicago, Nov. 8—“Now really, good people, do you expect me to appear in an overcoat and galoshes when I am representing a Greek nymph?”
Thus did the delectable Gertrude Hoffman, pioneer of the cuticule school of dancing, reply today to allegations of the Women’s Church Federation that she is not sufficiently camouflaged during her appearances at a local theatre.
To the charge that she appears “nude below the thighs,” Gertrude replies that hundreds of our best people are appearing daily similarly sans culottes at the Florida and California beaches.
The limitations of Gertrude’s wardrobe are the subject of anxious conferences today between Chief of Police Schuettler and his censor of amusements.
Saturday, February 13, 2021
AUTO CAMOUFLAGE IS USED CAR DEALERS’ ART; NOT AN ARTIST in Omaha Daily Bee, November 4, 1917, p. 35—
WWI camouflaged truck, source unknown
When it becomes necessary, as shortly it will, to secure the services of expert camouflage operators, remarks The Commentator in the current issue of American Motorist, I hope the government will not overlook the finest lot of camouflagers in the world. Talk about our French disguisers, who can make a 10-ton gun look like a bologna sausage and thus protect it from German destruction, they are not in it with our American disguisers. Give any dealer in second-hand cars a chance and he’ll put it over any camouflagers that ever camouflaged a camer. What these second-hand distributors don’t know about making something look like something it is not, no foreigner that ever lived can teach them. There is a whole lot about this new war game we’ve go to be taught by those abroad, but when it comes to camouflage, so long as we have our second-hand automobile experts with us, we won’t have to get our educators in the disguising line from any place but home, sweet home.
Thursday, February 11, 2021
THE LAST (?) OF THE CAMOUFLAGE JOKES, cartoon (artist's signature unclear) from London Opinion reprinted in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 3, 1919, with the following dialogue—
“Why this dazzle get-up?”
“Fact is, dear boy, when my beastly creditors do see me, I’m hoping they won’t have the least idea in which direction I’m going.”
Untitled, in The Times Tribune (Scranton PA), June 20, 1918—
In gauging the speed of their prospective prey submersibles must base their reckoning on the sweep of a vessel’s lines from stern to stern. Recent tests off Sandy Hook [NJ, off New York Harbor] demonstrated that the interruption of these lines created by the zebra-like stripes of the camouflage artists causes errors up to 40 per cent, as to the knots per hour being negotiated by a bedaubed ship…Under normal conditions, observers are able to come within 2 per cent of a vessel’s speed, showing what protection the cubistic color scheme affords against the hostile torpedo.
NOTE We found out recently that there was a French artist named Georges Taboureau (1879-1960), primarily known for his travel posters, who designed ship camouflage for the French during World War I. He frequently signed his work as Sandy Hook.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Above In the past, we've posted various findings about Carol Sax (1885-1961), an Iowa-born theatre set designer who also worked as a ship camoufleur during World War I. In the current issue of The Iowa Source (February 2021) we have also now published an essay about aspects of his life.
the life of camoufleur Carol Sax
Monday, February 1, 2021
|USS Santa Teresa (1918)|
Manya Denenberg Rudina (1895-1975), DEATH STOPS THE SCULPTOR’S HAND: Sensations of an Artist’s Model, in The Pittsurgh Press, May 24, 1919, p. 6 (Chapter XXVII)—
[During World War I] Dozens of my friends entered successively the army or navy and practically all of them eventually went into one or the other division of the camouflage corps. One well-known artist for whom I had posed many times enlisted as a common seaman in the navy and spent his time swinging over the sides of ships putting on the streaks of paint to conceal them from periscopes of the submarines. Many an evening has seen a motley gathering of artists in uniform at the Penguin• [in New York], for many of them were stationed at the navy headquarters here and could get evenings off when their work was done.
We heard in confidence many of the devices that were being used to foil the U-boats, and the artists discussed this phase of the war, and the concealment of military works by means of camouflage, as earnestly as experts in ordinance and engineering discussed their problems of the war.
Below A ship in the process of being painted in a dazzle camouflage scheme.
Note There are no full-color photographs of WWI ship camouflage. The originals of the black and white images above have been digitally “colorized” using AI software. While their light / dark values are accurate, the choice and location of colors, even when plausible, may not be literally correct.