Art, Gestalt, and Camouflage: Rhyme and Reason in Art and Design
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There is no way to know when camouflage was first practiced, but it is known that the first official military camouflage unit was established in 1914 in France. It was the French who named it, but the term was soon after adopted into other languages by other nations as well. Almost immediately, it became a rich resource for humor, especially among those cartoonists who had earlier lampooned Modern Art, beginning with the Armory Show in 1913. As is evidenced by this collection of vintage camouflage-themed cartoons, the satirists saw the resemblance between Cubism, Futurism, and wartime camouflage (especially disruptively-patterned “dazzle” ship camouflage). Coincident with the women’ suffrage movement, they also claimed that women had long made use of camouflage, through cosmetics, dress, and behavior, as a reliable way to hoodwink men. With the arrival of Prohibition, rum runners adopted the devious ploys of military camouflage artists, for the purpose of hiding contraband.
These and other aspects of camouflage (especially during the era of World War I) are represented in this archive of published cartoons. This material was collected, restored and assembled by UNI Emeritus Professor Roy R. Behrens over several decades, in the course of his long-term research of art, design and modern camouflage.
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Behrens, Roy R., "Art, Gestalt, and Camouflage: Rhyme and Reason in Art and Design" (2022). Behrens Video Archive. 11.