To mark the centenary of the First World War, 5 contemporary artists have transformed real-life ships in the UK and USA, inspired by the experimental naval camouflage developed in 1917. The contemporary ‘dazzle ships’ moored on the rivers of Liverpool, Edinburgh, London and New York have been admired by millions since the first ship was launched in 2014. These brightly coloured boats pay homage to the hundreds of ships that were ‘dazzled’ during the First World War.
The idea of ’dazzle’, an experimental camouflage painted on to the surface of ships, was pioneered by British artist Norman Wilkinson, who prepared numerous designs for vessels, including US merchant ships, targeted by enemy U-boats. Drawing on avant-garde artistic movements such as Cubism and Vorticism, as well as animal camouflage, these bewildering shapes and angles were designed to confuse the enemy as they struggled to make out the dazzle ships against shifting waves and clouds.
Dazzle Ship series co-commissioned with Liverpool Biennial
Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies