I discovered something interesting details recently about the man believed to be the greatest artist killed in the First World War, German Expressionist Franz Marc. Before he died at Verdun in 1916, Marc's talents were put to work painting camouflage canvases to hide artillery positions. In this letter he describes his assignment and succinctly explains how camouflage is supposed to work. It's also clear that he considered the Russian Wassily Kandinsky's style a perfect model for camouflage artists.
I found myself in a huge hayloft (a very nice workshop!) and I painted nine 'Kandinsky's' (...) on tent canvas. This process had a very useful purpose: to make artillery positions invisible to reconnaissance planes and aerial photography by covering them with canvases painted in a roughly pointillist style and in line with observation of the colors of natural camouflage (mimicry) (...) From now on, painting must make the picture that betrays our presence sufficiently blurred and distorted for the position to be unrecognizable. The division is going to provide us with a plane to experiment with some aerial photographs to see how it looks from the air. I'm very interested to see the effect of a Kandinsky from six thousand feet.
Franz Marc, Letters from the Front
Perhaps this 1913 work, gives a little inkling as to why Marc looked to Kandinsky.
|Improvisation 30 (Cannons)