Atoms for Peace by Erik Nitsche

Pictured above is a poster titled “Hydrodynamics”, designed by Erik Nitsche in 1955 for the General Dynamics Company. This was part of a campaign named “Atoms for Peace” that was meant to signify the company’s commitment to peace during their development of nuclear energy. The name of the campaign was titled after President Eisenhower’s speech “Atoms for Peace”, in which he discussed the birth of new science in America. In this speech he also delivered the famous quote, “I want to be constructive, not destructive.” Erik Nitsche was hired to introduce the first ever nuclear powered submarine the the world, the Nautilus. Steven Heller claims that this arguably the most famous piece in the series saying, “it was an indelible logo in its day … the shell was a virtual cornucopia of progress.” The symbol of the entire campaign was this submarine that Nitsche pictures emerging from a nautilus shell, which it was named after. The title of the piece “Hydrodynamics” is placed in text underneath the shell. The company’s name, General Dynamics is placed at the bottom of the poster while the words “l’atome au service de la paix” is place at the top of the poster. This french phrase translates to “the atom in the service of peace”, which is also a reference to Jules Verne’s book, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, from which the name of the submarine is also inspired by. This peace is very prominent in the career of Erik Nitsche as this series of posters is what he is best known for.

Works Cited:

Poster, Atoms for Peace, 1955; Designed by Erik Nitsche (Swiss, 1908–1998); Switzerland; offset lithograph on paper; 132.5 x 96 cm (52 3/16 x 37 13/16 in.).