The Artists Influencing Military Camouflage


Many people enjoy the history of warfare. Military surplus stores are the place to go if you want to own a piece of military history. But have you ever thought about the history of camouflage in the United States, Germany and Russia? At a good military surplus store, you will be able to find all the items that made these armies great during the big wars of the past few hundred years. Each country has a fascinating history of the development of military uniforms, of course. A good military surplus store will be able to not only sell you a range of camouflage gear from different countries but, they will also be able to tell you about what art went into making these.

Abbott Thayer was a very famous American zoologist and artist, who wrote about hiding colorations. He was known as the father of camouflage.  Military leaders from across the globe read this with great interest and implemented his ideas into the design of their camouflage gear. In terms of  surplus military items, you could always ask about what Thayer’s influence in that specific item has been. Interestingly enough, Thayer also wrote about countershading, which is how to hide shadows, but this was not as successful as the rest of his teachings. People working at military surplus stores will be able to explain more about the hows and whys of this. One very important part of the development of camouflage, and particularly that of the Germans, is the Gestalt psychology. This is one of the most complicated parts of psychology and asks existential questions such as “how come we are able to see things”. This was heavily used in the development of German army surplus camouflage gear. Some of the world’s most famous artists also had a strong influence on camouflage. Such things as vorticism, cubism and impressionism significantly influenced the development of camouflage, as this was aimed at disrupting outlines. It also used color theory and abstraction.

The French were the first to have a section dedicated specifically at army camouflage. Those who worked there were called camoufleurs and they were almost all artists. It is through these specialists that painted canvas netting was developed, which has been used by all the great armies and is still used today. Of course, if you find some camouflage netting at a military surplus store, you will really have an authentic item that speaks of the important history of camouflage. Many countries followed in the footsteps of the French, with the United States developing the New York Camouflage Society in 1917, for example. This was soon followed by the Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps. Germany had similar developments, including what is now widely accepted to be the first printed camouflage. This was the lozenge camouflage and was used to cover military aircraft. A good military surplus store will have all these items on sale.

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