Abstracting the Fleet: Dazzle Camouflage’s Influence on Contemporary Art and Design
Picasso claimed it to be a product of Cubist influence. Others attributed it as a play on the abstract chaos of Italian Futurist art. Vorticists from Britain, on the other hand, actually participated in the concept’s development, with movement artists such as Edward Wadsworth contributing some 2,000-odd designs for ship patterns.
Regardless of its roots, dazzle camouflage is arguably one of the most strikingly aesthetic tools of war ever employed. Shapes and stripes decorated along the outer surfaces of merchant and war vessels were intended to confuse enemy submarines of a “dazzle ship’s” exact nautical position. Beautiful, stunning, and, in practice, terrifying, it was a rare occurrence where art was the technology and war became a medium.