Original General Dynamics Posters by Eric Nitsche

April 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

The General Dynamics posters are vibrant works whose designs are unparalleled in the poster world.
Eric Nitsche designed three series of posters for General Dynamics from the years 1955 to 1960.
The first series, created in 1955, was called Atoms for Peace, and consisted of 6 posters. These posters all featured a central image with the words “Atoms for Peace” written in a different language on each poster. Some of the specific themes of the posters were: astrodynamics, hydrodynamics, and electrodynamics.

The images in the middle of the poster are striking, they ask the viewer to think – what is that imagery? What is that showing? The poster below embodies the concept “radiation dynamics,” and it evokes a sense of waves generating from the deep red circle at the top of the poster. The design is simple, yet stunning.

General Dynamics -Atoms for Peace (Arabic)

General Dynamics -Atoms for Peace (Arabic)

Another question we can ask in the year 2013 is: just WHY did they design these posters?

The answer is complex, but one could conjecture that the propaganda was necessary for General Dynamics to promote the peaceful use of atomic energy. Certainly, the history behind the atomic bombs dropped on Japan was fresh in people’s minds even a decade after World War II. People associated atomic energy with a force of mass destruction and tragedy associated with war. The plan for General Dynamics at this time was to change that perception through the creation of these posters that generated a positive association and connection to atomic energy.

Atomic energy was a fast-emerging power source, and General Dynamics displayed the Atoms for Peace posters at the conferences they attended, like the Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva in 1955. These were important tools in representing General Dynamics’s company, which was founded in 1952. What kinds of products did General Dynamics make? Most notably, they made the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine, but some of their other products included medical instruments and rockets.

General Dynamics - Atoms for Peace, Electrodynamics

General Dynamics – Atoms for Peace, Electrodynamics (Sanskrit)

Why were they in different languages? The different languages include: Sanskrit, French, German, Russian, English, Japanese, Arabic. General Dynamics tried to appeal to an international audience; thus, they tailored their poster to be striking visually for all viewers, but to have writing in different languages on each poster.

The second set of Atoms for Peace featured 7 posters, all created in 1956. Some of the others series of posters that General Dynamics created were the Triga series, which promoted a research reactor, and a series that focuses on a variety of products for energy and industry.

The posters offer a look at how a groundbreaking scientific research movement used propaganda. As artwork, the posters have a vibrancy and visual power that makes them eye-catching. I find it interesting that they are a set that is hard to find in full completeness, and I think their rarity adds even more to their mystique.

Vintage European Posters has been lucky to acquire a collection of General Dynamics posters recently, and we invite you to visit us and see for yourself how intriguing these posters really are.

General Dynamics - Atoms for Peace (Japanese)

General Dynamics – Atoms for Peace (Japanese)

Right now, we are exhibiting at LA Modernism with 10 newly aquired General Dynamics posters.  When we get back to the shop in Berkeley next week, we will photograph them, catalogue them, and upload them to our website, so stay tuned for new acquisitions!

This post was written by Karlie Drutz, Vintage European Posters special projects coordinator,
and edited by Elizabeth Norris, owner of Vintage European Posters.

You can visit our showroom at 2201 Fourth Street in Berkeley on Tuesdays and by appointment.
Call us at 510 843 2201 to schedule an appointment.

Our next pop up open weekend is May 18-19 2013. You can see our collection at www.vepca.com

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