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THE GENERAL DYNAMICS POSTERS DESIGNED BY ERIK NITSCHE

M0405_nautilus_détail.jpg

ERIK NITSCHE

A Swiss graphic designer who immigrated to the USA, Erik Nitsche was a pioneer of industrial graphic art. He revolutionized the design which was used in company technical catalogues and in annual reports. With great attention to detail he specialized in the domain of technology, preferring simple, elegant, geometrical and colored forms.


In 1955 he was named as art director of General Dynamics, the newly founded American industrial company to which his graphics gave a strong modern identity.

For the first conferences of the International Agency of Atomic Energy, (AIEA-IAEA), of 1955 and 1958, Nitsche created his celebrated series of posters for General Dynamics.

Erik Nitsche created posters of highly symbolic value, taking inspiration from the ‘Swiss International Style’ and was helped by the printing skill of this friend, the lithographer Roger Marsens in Lausanne.

General Dynamics, Атомы на служнбе мира, Astrodynamics, Atoms for peace

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1860.–

GENERAL DYNAMICS

General Dynamics was founded in 1952 by the fusion of Electric Boat and Canadaair Ltd. This industrial company was at the forefront of scientific research including nuclear energy, electricity, electronics, aerodynamics and space dynamics.

The company built planes, rockets, nuclear power plants and medical instruments, primarily for the American government. Notably, it constructed the Nautilus, which was the first nuclear powered submarine.

The company was very active during the first AIEA conferences of 1955 and 1958. It asked its director of communications, Erik Nitsche, to produce a series of posters for the public, to promote the numerous branches of research related to the latest technologies of the time. Faith in science was immense, resources were considered limitless, progress moved steadly forward and everything seemed possible.

These posters were part of a real lobbying campaign, not to sell a product, but to inform the public in an overall way about scientific research and advances in technology.

banniere_site_chillon.jpgTwo general dynamic posters placed in front of the Chillon castle in 1955.

Today, General Dynamics posters have become icons of the 50’s and of the ‘Atomic age’. They form part of museum collections and are sought after by avant guard collectors.

The complete collection is rare and difficult to build.

THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE PEACEFUL USES OF ATOMIC ENERGY

The first 'International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy' took place at the seat of the United Nations in Geneva from the 8th to the 20th of August 1955.

All aspects of atomic energy were discussed, from the exploitation of minerals for nuclear power plants, to university research and its medical use.

The result of this conference was the creation in 1956 of the 'International Agency for Atomic Energy', (AIEA-IAEA), which was ratified by almost all states during the second conference in 1958.

The first series, for the conference of 1955 was composed of 6 posters in 6 langages, English, French, Russian, German, Japanese and Hindi.

General Dynamics, Atoms for peace

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 2130.–

Atoms for Peace poster 1955

‘The pyramid of flags’

The first poster of the series, the flag pyramid, symbolizes all the nations together under the acronyme of the atom and capped by the English slogan for the conference, ‘Atoms for Peace’.

The Nautilus Poster

General Dynamics, L'atome au service de la paix, hydrodynamics

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 2670.–

New

< 'L'atome au service de la paix, hydrodynamics'.

The most well-known of the General Dynamics posters, with the terrestrial globe at the centre and a Nautilus shell. From its spiral emerges the Nautilus submarine, a summit of technology.

The USS version of the poster for the American territories. >


General Dynamics, USS Nautilus

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

Price upon request

The Nautilus was the first nuclear propulsed submarine, which among some other of its feats, passed under the North Pole.

On this poster, Erik Nitsche takes a lightening shortcut of 4 billion years, spanning the evolution of life on earth.


At the centre, the terrestrial globe and the spiral of a Nautilus shell, which is a mollusc descended from the ammonites and symbol of life in the oceans, also of time and evolution.

This giant shell surges towards the conquest of the seas, together with the Nautilus submarine, the sublime outcome of technology and human knowledge.

.

Eric Nitsche et Roger Marsens, working on the lithographic stone of the General Dynamics Nautilus poster

1955 – ANONYME


Erik Nitsche and the printer Roger Marsens working on the lithographic stone used for the Nautilus poster in 1955.




THE RUSSIAN, GERMAN, JAPANESE AND HINDI GENERAL DYNAMICS POSTERS OF 1955

General Dynamics, Атомы на служнбе мира, Astrodynamics, Atoms for peace

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1860.–

< ‘Atoms for Peace’ in Russian. The ‘Astrodynamics’ poster, which illustrates ballistic research and rockets being put into orbit.

On the ‘Aerodynamics’ poster the text is in German and represents, in the midst of the Cold War, tentatives to fly nuclear propulsed planes capable of flying for a week.
The silhouetted planes are B-36’s put into service in 1954. >

General Dynamics, Atome im dienste des Friedens, aerodynamics

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1260.–

General Dynamics, Atoms for peace, electrodynamics

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1080.–

< ‘Atoms for Peace' in Hindi. In this ‘Electrodynamics’ poster, nuclear electricity symbolized by the atom at the centre of the light bulb, would light up the world.

Sometimes nicknamed the ‘Rubik’s cube’, this poster in Japanese with its ‘Nucleodynamics’ subtitle, makes a reference to molecular research. >

A nice symbolic representation of an organic molecule or a section of DNA.

General Dynamics, Atoms for peace, nucleodynamics

1955 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1070.–

GENERAL DYNAMICS POSTERS FROM 1956

ATOMS FOR PEACE

In this second series of ‘Atoms for peace’ printed in 1956, Erik Nitsche translated the slogan into 5 langages : Arabic, Spanish, French, Italian and German.

General Dynamics, Radiation dynamics

1956 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1570.–

< ‘Atoms for Peace’ in Arabic.
Here the sub-title is ‘Radiation Dynamics’ and Nitche, in a poetic way is telling us about the latest research into the mutation and radiation of vegetables, a premonition of the genetic manipulations of today.

‘Solar Dynamics’ >
In this poster in Spanish, the mosaic of concentric circles symbolizes the scientific study of the sun and the associated research for energy production using solar panelled mirrors.

General Dynamics, Solar Dynamics, el atomo para la paz

1956 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1970.–

General Dynamics, Atome im Dienste des Friedens, basic forces

1956 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1830.–


‘Atoms for Peace, Basic Forces’, in German.
Erik Nitsche illustrates research on gravitation and electro-magnetism, fondamental forces which govern matter, from micro-waves to the movement of the stars.

The red point in a white circle could represent an atom or a sun, but could also be interpreted as an egg, a symbol of the Big Bang, the beginning of the universe.

General Dynamics - Atomo per la pace, servodynamics

1956 – Erik NITSCHE

Price upon request

New

< 'Atomo per la Pace, Servodynamics'

A superb illustration of the working of the first computers. Three colored lights flicker like a lighted sign in a network of data processing synapses.

General Dynamics. L'atome au service de la paix, Nuclear fusion

1956 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1930.–

In this poster in French with the sub-title ‘Nuclear Fusion', the multiple layers of color suggest the compression of matter, the exterior pushed against the centre which is lighter in color. This compression effect is reinforced by the two opposing arrows which heat the plutonium bar red hot.

It is a great way to illustrate controlled nuclear fusion. Here Erik Nitsche is in full command of his artistic skill.

POSTERS FOR THE SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON THE PEACEFUL USES OF ATOMIC ENERGY

'EXPLORING THE UNIVERSE' POSTERS 1958


This was a series of 7 posters made during the second International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy which was held in Geneva in 1958.

All of the posters in this series have the title, ‘Exploring the Universe’ and represent all aspects of technological research.

General Dynamics, Exploring the Universe, first steps into space

1957 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 2170.–

< ‘Exploring the Universe, First Steps into Space’.
This poster is sometimes known as the ‘manta ray’ but in fact represents the wing of an aeroplane in a wind tunnel with its graphic flux of air.

‘Exploring the Universe, Subatomic Worlds’ >
nicknamed by some as the Boson Higgs, this abstract image was inspired by ‘Drip’ paintings and ‘Lyrical Abstraction’. It illustrates atom traces and collisions in a particule accelerator.



General Dynamics, Exploring the Universe, subatomic worlds

1957 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 920.–

General Dynamics, Exploring the Universe, worlds without ends

1957 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 3240.–

'Exploring the universe, worlds whithout end'

A small rocket is propulsed into the infinity of galaxys and black holes.

In this superb poster for research which could lead to the conquest of space, Erik Nitsche, realised the feat of representing a black hole which is by definition invisible. Its mass is so enormous that no light can escape.

This visual exploit is made possible by the contrast between a profound black and an intense white printed over several times on the lithographic stone.

'Exploring the universe, Weather control'

The text in this poster refers to the research undertaken to understand and to try to control and modify the weather through chemistry, here symbolized by the beaker.
To this day, only modest results have been obtained when trying to provoke changes in rain and hail using silver iodide.

This poster reminds us of an episode from the Cold War : The first American tentatives to put rockets into space had ended in failure, the rockets exploded when taking off. However in 1957 the Russians were able to send their Spoutnik into orbit.
In their anti-soviet paranoia the American military was persuaded that the Russians were capable of manipulating the weather in order to send lightening bolts to strike American rockets.
To try and understand how the Russians could have destroyed the American rockets, the government spent millions on weather research. This programme would benefit General Dynamics.



General Dynamics, Exploring the universe, Weather control

1957 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1630.–

General Dynamics, basic forces, exploring the Universe

1958 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 2130.–

New


These two posters were reissued under the ‘Exploring the Universe’ series.

< Basic forces

Nuclear fusion >







General Dynamics, exploring the Universe, Nuclear fusion

1957 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1930.–

"Exploring the universe, The energetic sea".

The rendering of the movement of the sea reinforced by the image of the jelly fish, symbolizes the research on the energy of marine currents, the tide and waves.

One of the more beautiful posters from the series, nicknamed the ’Jellyfish’.

General Dynamics, Exploring the universe. The energetic sea

1958 – Erik NITSCHE

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Triga Poster 1958

Triga is an acronyme in English for ‘Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics’

General Atomic, Triga

1958 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1620.–


TRIGA is the name of a small experimental nuclear reactor built by General Atomics, a division of General Dynamics.




General Dynamics, Réacteur Triga Mark II

None – ANONYME


The experimental reactor TRIGA was revealed to the public at the second 'International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy' which was held in Geneva in September 1958.

General Dynamics, Générateur Triga accessible au public lors de la conférence internationale sur l'utilisation de l'énergie atomique à des fins pacifiques de 1958

1958 – ANONYME

POSTERS FOR GENERAL DYNAMICS DEPARTMENTS

Transportation, ENERGY AND INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTS 1959-1960

Convair 880

General Dynamics, Convair 880: world's fastest jetliner

1959 – Erik NITSCHE

Price upon request

New

'Convair 880, The world fastest jetliner'

A modernist design was decided for this jewel of the aeronautic construction industry.

In 1959 Convair, General Dynamics’ aeronautical division, produced the fastest plane in the world, the Convair 880, in reference to its high speed of 880 mph (970km/h).

To this day its modified version, the 990 is still the fastest civil transport plane ever to have been built, with the exeption of Concord. In fact, today, for reasons of fuel economy, planes fly slightly less fast at a cruising speed of around 830 mph (900km/h).


Electric Boat and Electronic Intelligence


"Electric Boat, Undersea Frontiers"

General Dynamics was founded in 1952 with the fusion of ‘Electric Boat’ and ‘Canadair Ltd’.

Electric Boat, founded in 1891 provided the naval technology and the electric motors needed to launch the Nautilus submarine in 1955.

General Dynamics, Undersea frontiers - Electric boat

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 2570.–

General Dynamics, electronic intelligence

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 2170.–

"STROMBERG-CARLSON, Electronic intelligence"

General Dynamics bought Stromberg-Carlson in 1955 which provided them with a long experience in electronics and telecommunications.

Erik Nitsche superimposed portions of concentric circles which represent radio signals or radar emissions over the contours of a map.

With incredible vision, he had already designed the WiFi logo 40 years before its birth.

Once more Nitsche can be considered as an avant garde artist in the domains of graphic art and technological design.


Material Service, Energetic earth and Building material


Material Service was bought by General Dynamics in 1959.

'Energetic earth, material service'

It is in the depths of the earth that we find the energy to light and heat up our homes.

In this poster an arrow changes from blue, a cold color, to yellow and then to red, the warmest color. In the background are buildings silhouetted in the night, the lighted windows are signs of warmth and life.

Once again, Erik Nitsche, in a brilliant sort of shorthand, depicts a domain of research still in its infancy at this time, but which would be the future to come.

General Dynamics, energetic earth, material service

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1950.–

General Dynamics, Material Service, Building materials

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 3670.–

New


"Material Service, Building material"

For this superb poster, Erik Nitsche looked for inspiration in Mondrian’s work and in which he illustrates scaffolding and building materials.


Liquid Carbonic, Medical gases and Industrial gases

"Liquid Carbonic, Medical gases"

A spiral which goes from violet, (a slightly cold color) to blue (very cold), to the black of absolute zero, in order to symbolize the freezing techniques of liquid azote in health care.

This time he found inspiration in the Kinetic Art of the 1950’s

If we look directly at the spiral it begins to turn and pulls us into it. Nitsche is already proclaiming Optic and hallucinogenic Art which was not officially born until 1962, two years after this poster was made.

Erik Nitsche again at the forefront of avant-garde creation.

General Dynamics, liquid carbonic, medical gases

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1930.–

General Dynamics, industrial gases, Liquid carbonic

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1930.–



"Liquid Carbonic, Industrial gases"


A very technical drawing of an arrangement of pipes inspired by the Liquid Carbonic firm in Oakland. >

General Dynamics, Usine de liquide carbonique à Oakland en Californie

None – ANONYME


Canadair

General Dynamics, CL-44, Canadair forty-four air cargo

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 950.–


"CL-44 Canadair forty-four air cargo"

In this poster for the cargo plane CL-44 built by Canadair, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, Erik Nitsche chose to draw a wooden crate in dark brown tones when on the ground, but which gets lighter and brighter as it rises until becoming a turquoise blue color of the sky.

THE BEGINNING OF GLOBALISATION

In these last two General Dynamics posters that were printed by Roger Marsens, Erik Nitsche, in a modernist style announced the beginnings of the 60’s style and globalisation.

General Dynamics, Convair 880 the world's fastest jetliner

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 1070.–

< 'Convair 880 the world’s fastest jetliner’.
The earth’s globe is lifted by the nations and their many colors which are crossed by General Dynamics' 880 plane.

‘TIGRA around the world, General Atomic’ >
All nations are united under the pacific use of atomic energy. The small grey circles symbolize nuclear power plants which bring energy and peace on earth in holistic harmony.

General Dynamics (Triga around the world, General Atomic)

1960 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 920.–

The Minerva poster

This was the last poster printed in large Swiss size for General Dymamics, this time by Roto-Sadag in Geneva.

For a long time this poster was somewhat of an enigma, until the original printer gave us a clue and we found its trace in a publication of 1803.

It announces the large historical and scientific retrospective presented by General Dynamics at the Rockefeller Plaza in New York.

General Dynamics

1960 circa – Erik NITSCHE

Sold

The Minerva


To illustrate this large historical retrospective of the company, Erik Nitsche reproduced an extraordinary image : ‘The Minerva, a great airship destined to make great discoveries, by professor Robertson’, as written by its ‘inventor’ Etienne-Gaspard Robert, painter and illustrator who was passionate about arts and sciences…. and ‘airships’.

Minerve was the Roman goddess of war but was also the protector of the arts, commerce and strategy.

In 1803 Robert drew his fantastic ship being carried by a hot air balloon, capable of carrying 60 people together with scientific and exploration material. The hot air balloon was heated by a giant candle, carried an array of baroque houses, barrels, huge ladders, not forgetting a church, a bugle, a cannon for defense, a parachute in the style of Leonardo Da Vinci and an astronomical telescope.

An allegory for progress, research and science.


These technologies were the principle industrial sectors for General Dynamics: aviation, navigation, energy, construction, armament and astronomy.

Erik Nitsche could never have found a better fantastical allegory of science and technology to illustrate the story of the great consortium that is General Dynamics.

THE ERIK NITSCHE EXHIBITION AT THE ROCKEFELLER PLAZA IN NEW YORK

4 posters published for the large General Dynamics retrospective exhibition at the Rockefeller Plaza.

General Dynamics "Dynamic America" 1 Rockefeller Plaza

1960 circa – Erik NITSCHE

Sold

< From old radio speakers to electronic transistor switches.
With the acquisition of Stromberg-Carlson (founded in 1894), General Dynamics acquired their long experience in telecommunications and electronics.


Ancestors of the Nautilus >
On this poster Erik Nitsche re-uses the drawings of 1850 to 1896 of fantastical submarines.

General Dynamics "Dynamic America" 1 Rockefeller Plaza

1960 circa – Erik NITSCHE

Sold

General Dynamics "Dynamic America" 1 Rockefeller Plaza

1960 circa – Erik NITSCHE

Sold

< From the Minerva airship to B-58 reaction bombers.


‘Dynamic America, just published’ >
The publication of the ‘Dynamic America’ book for the occasion of the large historical retrospective at the Rockefeller Plaza.

Photos of William Woodnut Griscom, founder of Electric Boat in 1891 which would become General Dynamics in 1952 and the two famous products of this company : the electric tramway and a strange ’Dr. Scott’s electric corset’.



General Dynamics "Dynamic America" just published

1960 circa – Erik NITSCHE

Sold

A History of General dynamics

GD Divisions, their acquisitions or openings

General Dynamics was founded in 1952 with the merger of Electric Boat and Canadair Ltd. Electro Dynamics was a division of Electric Boat.

Electric Boat (founded in 1891) merged in 1952.

Electro Dynamics (founded in 1880) merged in 1952.

Canadair (founded in 1942) merged in 1952.

Convair (founded in 1908) acquisitioned in 1954.

General Atomic opened in 1955.

Stromberg-Carlson (founded in 1894) acquisitioned in 1955.

Liquid Carbonic (founded in 1888) acquisitioned in 1957.

Material Service (founded in 1919) acquisitioned in 1959.


SHORT HISTORY OF GENERAL DYNAMICS POSTERS

Atoms for peace

First series, printed in 2 sets in 1955 and 1956.

1st set: 6 posters printed in 1955, to promote the pacific use of atomic energy, on the occasion of the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, Geneva 1955

2nd set: 5 posters printed in 1956

Exploring the universe

Second series designed in 1957 and 1958,

to show the research activities of the company, on the occasion of the second International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, Geneva 1958. On this occasion the atomic reactor TRIGA was presented to the public.

Transportation, Energy and Industrials Products Divisions

Third series printed in 1959 & 1960,

to promote the different GD divisions

Erik Nitsche Graphic Designer

International Golf Championship Trophy and the Canada Cup, Wentworth 1956

1956 – Erik NITSCHE

CHF 620.–

During his career Erik Nitsche participated in numerous business publications and designed quite a few other posters such as this one for the ‘Canada Cup Wentworth’ an international golf championship of 1956.

Erik Nitsche, Biography (1908-1998)

Erik Nitsche studied in Lausanne, Switzerland, then moved to the United States at the age of 26, where he had a successful career as graphic designer and art director. In 1955 he was hired as art director for the engineering company General Dynamics. He designed a breakthrough series of posters, in addition to designing their corporate image, annual reports, and advertising. After the 1960's he worked mainly on children's books.

> more on Erik Nitsche





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