Sale 2467 Part I, Gail Chisholm: A Life in Posters, March 1, 2018
GENERAL DYNAMICS Born in Switzerland in 1908, Erik Nitsche worked in Germany and Paris before moving to the United States in 1934. One of many young European immigrants who changed the face of American graphic design, he is best remembered for his series of 29 posters for General Dynamics, where he served as Art Director between 1955 and 1960. These images rank among the most impressive corporate identity campaigns of the 20th century. His first series, Atoms for Peace , consisted of 6 posters designed for the General Dynamics exhibition at the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva in 1955. They were printed “in English, Russian, German, French, Hindi, and Japanese - designed specifically for those nations where atomic energy was being used for peaceful purposes” (Heller/ Nitsche). Nitsche was charged with elevating “the stature of General Dynamics among other huge American technology firms in attendance, including General Electric, Union Carbide, and Westinghouse” (ibid). As the conference was focusing on peaceful uses of atomic energy, so too did General Dynamics’ posters. Due to pressing national security issues, General Dynamics could not allow any of their products or projects to be depicted on a poster. “In the absence of their so-called atomic products, symbolic expression of the corporate mission was the only real option . . . [in which] Each poster identified a particular aspect of General Dynamics’ research” (ibid). Nitsche found inspiration in scientific imagery, focusing largely on color gradients and geometric forms to convey these abstract concepts.