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Image credit: Photo, top: Fireboat John J. Harvey, courtesy of David Grill Image, bottom: Detail of the concept sketch for Flow Separation, March 2018, courtesy of Tauba Auerbach

We are a proud partner of 14-18 NOW, the UK’s official arts programme marking the centenary of the First World War.

14-18 NOW is the UK’s official arts programme marking the centenary of the First World War. We commission artists from all artforms (including visual arts, film, theatre, literature, mass-participation events, music, fashion, digital projects, poetry, dance and opera) to make new work inspired by the period 1914-1918. All of our projects are co-commissioned in partnership with cultural and heritage organisations across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Engaging people through the arts is a powerful way to bring the past to life. With no serving survivors left to tell the stories from the First World War, the arts are an effective way to engage contemporary audiences, especially those who currently feel little connection to the First World War. This programme is indebted to the vital role that artists – poets, painters, film-makers and others – have played in shaping public perceptions of the First World War.

Explore 14-18 NOW programming in the United States

Dazzle Ships (New York)

On display in the New York Harbor from July 1, 2018 - May 12, 2019

The contemporary ‘dazzle ships’ moored on the rivers of Liverpool, Edinburgh and London to mark the First World War centenary have become familiar to millions. These brightly coloured boats pay homage to the hundreds of ships that were ‘dazzled’ during the First World War. Now the Dazzle Ship project moves to the United States, with a new commission by American artist Tauba Auerbach in New York City.

Inspired by dazzle as a technology, the artist will transform a decommissioned ­ fireboat, the historic John J. Harvey, into a floating artwork. 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.

Public Art Fund and 14-18 NOW’s transformation of the fi­reboat into a dazzle ship by Auerbach will give the city a new riverside landmark, commemorating the centenary of Armistice and the innovation of dazzle. Click here for more information.

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