While the world spent nearly four decades on egg shells waiting to see if and when WWIII would erupt and nuclear warfare would annihilate mankind, the outcome of the Cold War seemed anticlimactic. However, the propaganda that was so successful on both sides has lead to major artistic movements around the world. The Victoria and Albert Museum in London had an exhibition of art inspired by the Cold War and examined today the profound changes this period had on not only the art world but the entire world. This exhibition explores modern art, design, architecture and film in the context of the Cold War.
Time Magazine profiled the exhibition:
Space Age Fashion
Futurism begins to influence fashion in a big way. This space hat is from 1965, by Edward Mann.
A poster produced by Olivetti featuring Richard Buckminster Fuller's Dome Over Manhattan scheme of the early 60s. His 1963 book asked readers to imagine the planet from space.
An early project from the Viennese group Haus-Rucker-Co in 1968 disengaged the wearer from the entire world. 'Flyhead', 'Viewatomiser' and 'Drizzler' were conceptual helmets to repress the senses.
The plastic chair was a regular focus of post war design with Charles and Ray Eames becoming the first to experiment with fiberglass. The new materials offered mass manufacturing and allowed designers to challenge the traditional ideas of rigidity, permanence and disposability usually applied to furniture. The examples shown here are by Eames and Globe (1950) and Eero Aarnio (1965).
Political consciousness in art raises the theme of Third World revolution as 'freedom fighters' peer into a chic American interior. The artwork seen here is by Paris-based Icelandic artist Erro (Gudmundur Gudnumddson).
Fantasy became fact in 1957 when the first satellite 'bleep' from Sputnik hit the radio waves. East and West vied for eminence in telecommunications with ever more grandiose teletowers. The Jested tower in Liberec, Czechoslovakia (1968-73) was possibly the most extraordinary. It continued the profile of the mountain it perched atop and its skin was made from fiberglass rods and panels to allow unhindered radio and TV transmissions.
Vice President Richard Nixon with USSR First Secretary Nikita Khrushchev during the 'kitchen debate' at the American National Exhibition, Moscow, 1959.
In post war Europe, micro cars flourished as an affordable and quickly manufactured vehicle for factory workers and farmers. The Messerschmitt Kabinenroller of 1955 was one such example.
Increasing anxiety over the effects modern technology was having on the environment led to all sorts of futuristic concepts such as this installation named 'Oasis No.7'. Haus-Rucker-Co., was the only Austrian group to raise environmental concerns in the early 1970s. The bubble protected the occupants as well as nature.
Pablo Picasso bridged the worlds of art and politics when he designed a scarf to commemorate the 'World Festival of Youth and Students for Peace', in Berlin, August 1951.
A publicity photograph of Stalinallee taken from the roof garden of the 'Children's House' on Straussberger Platz, Berlin, 1956. The grand Communist styled boulevard was named in honor of the Soviet leader as a birthday gift in 1949. Built amidst the ruins of post war Frankfurter Allee, Stalinallee represented a return to the low key modernism of Weimar Germany and showed the world the new priorities of the East German regime.
The New York City skyline is sliced through in a conceptual artwork by the neo-avant-garde Italian architectural group, Superstudio. They suggested universal architecture could link places together in a metaphysical sense.
For a complete interactive timeline of the exhibition:
The propaganda generated throughout these decades had another offshoot. It was utilized in both the public and private sector as it always had been but now it was renamed Advertising and Public Relations. We are still bombarded everyday with misinformation and partial truths whether it is to buy the latest pair of sneakers or support a particular politician, or support a war in Iraq.