The Art of the Space Race

Illustration for article titled The Art of the Space Race

Over at Berg London, Megan Prelinger has an amazing essay about the design of advertisements for defense industry companies during the mid-twentieth century space race. Interestingly, socialist-inspired designs were used to advertise anti-commie missile systems.


About this particular advertisement for Los Alamos Labs (which worked on weapons systems), Prelinger writes:

The blue spot disrupts the conventionally romantic stylization of planetary or solar bodies by contracting the sphere to its minimal form. [Artist Oli] Sihvonen here seems to reference the early 20th century Russian constructivists, with the prolonged vertical angular shape aimed at the planetary circle. It brings to mind El Lissitzsky's constructivist graphic composition Beat Back the Whites with the Red Wedge which pioneered the use of juxtaposed triangle and circle as a graphic strategy to represent political conflict. I find it ironic that the graphic legacy of Communist action should be re-articulated and put into service - whether with or without the artists' sanction - in the service of American Cold War-era weapons and civil space technological programming.


You can see more of these advertisements, along with design-geek analysis, at Berg London. Or you can pre-order a copy of Prelinger's forthcoming (gorgeous) book, Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957-62.

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Chip Overclock®

Just recently I was in Los Alamos and went to the Bradbury Science Museum (named after a Los Alamos Lab director). It was great fun, full of science, technology, and history displays. But it does have an element of the "Hey, Kids, nuclear weapons are fun!" kind of thing. Of course, that totally works for me, but may not be everyone's cup of tea.