1908.07.07 - 1998.11.14
I have just learned from Jack Rennert's new catalogue that the poster designer Erik Nitsche died at the end of last year. He has a special place in my life. Nitsche's poster with the white shell for General Dynamics is the first poster that I consciously remember, and it made such a strong impression on me that I took a picture of it, with the very first camera I owned as a boy.
It was part of a series with the theme Atoms for peace that was posted all over town. At that time, around 1955, nobody saw anything wrong in atomic energy, which was considered a marvelous gift from modern science, new, clean, powerful, with exciting applications in all kinds of human endeavors. The Nitsche posters expressed this feeling perfectly, and the clear design, the colors, the typography, and also the magic words "General Dynamics" conveyed the idea that a bright new age had begun. I was not even aware that that "General Dynamics" was the name of a company, much less of a defense contractor that had just built the first nuclear-powered submarine. How could anything evil come out of that unfolding white shell?
Many things and opinions have changed in the forty years since, but this poster to me
still brings back memories of expectation and hope.
Erik Nitsche was born and studied in Lausanne, Switzerland, and moved to the United States at the age of 26, where he had a successful career as graphic designer and art director. After 1960 he worked mainly on children's books.
The high esteem he enjoyed in the graphic design world is seen in his selection to Yusaku Kamekura's exclusive journal Creation (nr. 16, 1993, p.104).
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