Charles André Mare (1885–1932) was a French painter and designer. During the First World War, Mare joined the French Camouflage Corps where he led the development of military camouflage, painting artillery using Cubism techniques to deceive the eye. His ink and watercolour painting Le canon de 280 camouflé (The Camouflaged 280 Gun) shows the close interplay of abstract art and military application at that time. His aid was his life-long friend painter Fernand Léger. Together they developed processes ranging from painted canvases to camouflage nets and dummy figures and materiel. He kept an illustrated and thorough journal of his experiences, ultimately publishing his book “Cubism and Camouflage, 1914-1918″.
Mare applied the principles of disruptive coloration camouflage using forms derived from Cubism: bands of colour juxtaposed to prevent the eye from recognizing the shape of a gun barrel, for example. Colours are chosen to overlap with those of the surrounding landscape. At that time, Mare painted ten of his many watercolour sketchbooks in Cubist style.
But Mare didn’t limit himself to Cubism: “I found myself in a huge hayloft and I painted nine ‘Kandinskys’ (…) 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 colours 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 unrecognisable. 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.”