“Who is this guy doing the Bauhaus in New York?”
– László Moholy-Nagy
Art director, book designer, illustrator, typographer, graphic designer, photographer, advertiser, and packaging designer, Switzerland born Erik Nitsche was one of the guys who brought Bauhaus modernism into America through illustrations, book covers and advertising campaigns for a variety of clients including stores, films and, most notably, General Dynamics. As an art director for the United States aerospace and defense company he designed technical data for hydraulic systems and cross-sections of airplanes.
In the early fifties, at a time in which GD needed to foster its image as a purveyor of peace and progress instead of a weapon producer, its only option was to express a graphic means to present peaceful uses for the atomic power. Nitsche developed a communication strategy based on scientific imagery and geometric patterns inspired by Paul Klee over grey and cream backgrounds, through the split fountain technique.
The “Atoms for Peace” was a 6 multilingual posters campaign, featuring quotations from Isaiah “They shall beat swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
The campaign was so successful it did not only set the tone for future General Dynamics campaigns (including “Dynamic America”, a pictorial narrative of the nation’s military and industrial development seen through the lens of General Dynamics as it traced itself back to when it began in 1880 as Electro Dynamic) but the hyper-influencing modern-positive- feel is today identified as the perfect representation for that American era.