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The vanishing art of camouflage


Curated by Andrew Groves and Robert Leach.

21 October – November 2016, London Gallery West.

Against a contemporary backdrop of ceaseless military action, civilians have adopted camouflage as a ubiquitous pattern, adorning runways, sportswear, skateboards, toilet paper, and even condoms. The exhibition examines its artistic, fashionable, and political uses as a strategic and aspirational means of rendering the visible invisible and, paradoxically, the unseen seen.

The exhibition examines the stylistic, sociological, and political contexts of camouflage, from its early military origins at the turn of the twentieth century to its varied relationships with artists and designers, incorporating still imagery and film to analyse its ubiquitous appropriation – from fashion to art to architecture.

The exhibition, which juxtaposes historical military garments with their adaptive high-end fashion counterparts, also includes a selection of unusual artefacts that have adapted camouflage for their own purposes, calling into question the neutrality of blending in as a means of survival.

The Vanishing Art of Camouflage is the first exhibition to make extensive use of the Westminster Menswear Archive, which was recently established. The archive was founded to further the technical and functional study of menswear design, to increase awareness of menswear as a design discipline, and to serve as a resource for contemporary design.

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