Atomic Art

An exhibition called "Art in the Atomic Age" lured me to Asheville only to have no art about the atomic bomb at all. I felt cheated  and realized that I had never really seen bomb related art. By now I know that there have been exhibitions, but here is a small overview of the artists I have found so far. Only a few layered images have been created by me, everything else was collected from the internet or photographed from books for purely educational purposes.

 "Atomic Age" is often simply used to denote the time from the bombing of Hiroshima to the Cuban Missile Crisis, the age when atomic rockets, explosions and orbitals were often enough cute elements of design and advertising, space travel and promises of unlimited nuclear power enough to distracts from nuclear tests and patrolling bombers.

New York Times Magazine, August 12, 1945

But how can one depict the atomic age? Just have some electrons orbiting a nucleus?

 In a 1951 radio interview Pollock proclaimed: “It seems to me that the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or any other past culture. Each age finds its own technique.”

However, the vague abstractions of the “Age of Anxiety” and their apolitical CIA-funded, McCarthy-approved navel-gazing have never been my favourites. I have a humanistic fondness fo socially engaged art and started on a quest to find atomic art that was addressing Trinity, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Bikini, Nevada, Siberia et.al.

Art that was NOT freed from the disturbing conditions of actual life.

Jackson Pollock, Lucifer 1947

Very few people had actually seen the atomic bombs, and images of explosion and aftermath were strategically used or suppressed. The only photos widely distributed were in a press package that combined aerial reconnaissance pictures from Japan and Ed Westcott’s images of the happy and healthy people of Oak Ridge who helped to build the bomb. Photos taken on the ground by Japanese photographers like Yoshito Masushige (Hiroshima) and Yosuke Yamahata (Nagasaki) but also early arriving American military photographers like Wayne Miller and Joe O’Donnell were classified for decades. 

Yoshito Matsushige Hiroshima August 6, 1945

 It was only through Life Magazine photographers like Alfred Eisenstaedt and Bernard Hoffman that the American public had any idea of the impact, which was even then mostly described as blast wave and burn damage. Wartime stereotypes, the atrocities of Buchenwald and the story of 1 million saved boys lessened the horror.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, Mother and Child, Four Months after the Atomic Bomb, Hiroshima, Japan, 1945

The mushroom cloud, mostly seen in black and white photographs, became the signature image of the atomic age. This chiffre of doom was soon turned into a symbol of progress in Technicolor brilliance. While the cloud was omnipresent, indifference and selective amnesia, what Mary McCarthy in 1946 called a "black hole in human history," evolved. 

 It is a lot easier to follow the trail of the bomb in popular culture.

Donald Duck’s Atom Bomb was a rather dark or rather tasteless take on capitalism’s and Professor Molicule’s eagerness for the next bomb, Germanic/foreign spies, and news of radiation induced hair loss.

The ending at least echoed some early voices that called for an end to nuclear weapons production in favor of purely civilian uses of atomic discoveries.

This 32-page comic was given away in Cheerios boxes in  1947 and has only been reprinted in a censored version.

Donald Duck’s Atom Bomb. Newsprint promotional comic, 6-7/8 x 3-1/8, Issue #Y1 Carl Barks, written 1946, published 1947 

Distracting from the nuclear arms race, Disney soon became part of the propaganda machine. “Our Friend the Atom” was written and presented by Disney’s scientific advisor Heinz Haber -  whose research had been based on human experiments in Dachau and who had been brought over with his fellow war criminals Hubertus Strughold and Wernher von Braun in Operation Paperclip. His comments on the bomb are revealing: “That the results of their [the scientists] noble efforts could or even would ever be applied for destruction – this was farthest from their hearts and minds.” And “An atomic blast is more than a deadly threat; it is also a regrettable waste of energy.” 


Cover of Heinz Haber, “Our Friend the Atom” 1956

 Walt Disney opened a ride based on the nuclear submarine “Nautilus” in Tomorrowland in 1959.

Mrs. Mildred Nelson, wife of the chief machinist on the first nuclear-powered submarine, christens Submarine Voyage's Nautilus with Walt Disney, 1959

 The American military had employed artists through the Office of War Information and a Combat Art Unit since 1943. They were issued sketchbooks, pencils, charcoal and a camera and deployed all over the world but with more urgency in the Pacific, General MacArthur even requested them.

Robert MacDonald Graham was in Nagasaki from September to November 1945, but few of his war works remain. Atomic Landscape #3 is a bleak and apocalyptic landscape showing the lines of displaced people and the grim task of cleaning up the thousands of dead bodies, the misery of all war by then. Graham himself went back home to teaching and regionalist painting.

Robert MacDonald Graham jr., Atomic Landscape (Japanese Burial Detail), 1946

Standish Backus was part of the Navy’s first wave to Japan and produced pen and ink sketches of landing troops and the Japanese surrender. His watercolors from Hiroshima are more interested in the American soldiers. In his attempts to depict his surroundings he retreats  to still life traditions and ambiguous Vanitas motifs.


Standish Backus, Still Life, Hiroshima, 1946

Backus also delivered the bizarre and nauseating “At the Red Cross Hospital.” 


Standish Backus, At the Red Cross Hospital, Hiroshima, 1945 

In comparison “A Hiroshima Bombing Victim's Skin is Burned in the Pattern Corresponding to a Kimono” by Gonichi Kimura. 

Gonichi Kimura, A Hiroshima Bombing Victim’s Skin, 1945 

Many artists struggled with a response to the traumatic events, the documentary seemed more adequate than the aesthetic.

Joseph Vogel had been part of the Federal Arts Project and had also created cubistic paintings about the Spanish Civil War. He then became part of the Combat Photography Division as a combat cameraman all over Europe, documenting many of the concentration camps including Auschwitz. He came to Tokyo at the end of 1945, but none of the paintings he churned out to fill his quota were accepted or can be found.

He later said in a Smithsonian interview, that his interest in film was a logical and natural outgrowth when confronted with subject matter which was not easily coverable by painting or exceeded painting. He echoes Adorno’s statement that writing poetry after Auschwitz would be barbaric, often misquoted as “Art after Auschwitz is impossible.“  

Ted Gilien, who had been a muralist for the Federal Arts Project, came with the Combat Artist Unit to Nagasaki to document the bombings. He sketched and took hundreds of photographs. But the paintings he delivered to the army on his return were rejected and when he tried to sell them, people told him, “The war is over, knock it off.” The paintings seem to be lost.


Ted Gilien, Photograph of Nagasaki, late November or early December 1945. 

From Denise M. Rompilla, From Hiroshima to the hydrogen bomb: American artists witness the birth of the atomic age


Ted Gillien could not let go of his war experience so easily and spent the next couple of years painting “the war out of myself.” He turned the paintings into a self-published book, “The Price,” adding numbers, quotes, and his thoughts, warning about “H-bomb warfare – the most hideous crime against humanity ever devised.”  It was not a success. 


Ted Gillien, The Price, 1951

Operation Crossroads was a series of nuclear weapons test at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Able was a bit underwhelming, Baker however was an underwater detonation that caused enormous radioactive contamination of atoll, observers and particularly the unaware and unprotected troops sent to scrub the ships. It was extensively photographed and filmed.

Charles Bittinger was almost 70 years old when he painted glorious renditions of mushroom clouds during Operation Crossroads. He had been Head of Camouflage Design for the Navy and was invited to observe, his oil paintings seem to be based on film still though. His works are part of the Naval History and Heritage Command and Atomic Bomb Mushroom Cloud  has the following description:

The cloud reaches its maximum height of 40,000 ft in under one minute. As the heat and energy that drove the cloud up dissipated, the cap spread out and reached 2 miles across. Although not visible at the bottom, the ships and islands of the atoll are all covered by the ABLE cloud hovering overhead


Charles Bittinger, Atomic Bomb Mushroom Cloud, 1946

Arthur Beaumont was already a famous naval painter when he came to Bikini. He was invited to stand with the officers on the USS Fall River and witness the triumph of the Navy. And while he had to scrub himself after being doused with radioactive water to be close to the sinking wreck of the Saratoga, his 180 sketches and 14 paintings focus on valiant ships and commanders in the heroic tradition.


Arthur Beaumont, USS Fall River, Bikini Atoll Baker Bomb Test, July 25, 1946, Watercolor

Grant Powers was a commercial artist before the war and came to Crossroads as part of the Marine Corps. His sketches from the test look more spontaneous, colorful, and sometimes a bit cartoonish.

USS Appalachian was the press ship from which most of the observers watched the bombs. Those who looked directly at the blast could experience eye damage ranging from temporary blindness to severe burns on the retina. Goggles were worn during the initial phase of the explosion, when the fireball was brighter than the sun, but then taken off later as the protective glass was too dark to view the rest of the bomb phenomena.

 

Grant Powers, 0900 Through Protective Goggles on the USS Appalachian, 1946, Watercolor


Few of the military paintings were presented to the public. Ralston Crawford had been successful with color blocked industrial scenes and modernist Americana before the war, then worked for the Weather Division of the Air Force Visual Presentation Unit. After seeing the devastation in the photos at work, he started to introduce splintered lines and jagged edges into his art. 


Bikini, Fortune Magazine, December 1946


Crawford was sent to Bikini by Fortune Magazine and saw a world coming apart. He then pressed the magazine to focus on the invisible radioactive effects. The article included photographs, two of his paintings, a dispersion map laid over New York City and mentioned radiation sickness, a taboo until John Hersey’s Hiroshima essay in The New Yorker on August 31, 1946.   

Ralston Crawford showed more paintings and gouaches in a show in December 1946, explaining that: “These pictures constitute a comment on destruction.... They refer in paint symbols to the blinding light of the blast, to the color, and mostly to its devastating character as I saw it at Bikini Lagoon.”

While his pictorial symbols had been successful on weather maps, his art was criticized for being detached, indifferent and avoiding the human implications – sometimes by the same people who would soon praise and promote Abstract Expressionism.


Ralston Crawford, Tour of Inspection, 1946

Apart from inducing anxiety, the Bikini test was also quite fashionable and marketable. Operation Crossroads inspired the mushroom cloud cake (have a look at Pinterest, it’s still around) and gave name to the Bikini, whose predecessor by a month had been called “Atome” to emphasize its tininess. Dreams of beach, sun and sex were thereby forever tied to a devastated atoll whose inhabitants were never told about the full impact of the test, who nearly starved during evacuation to Rongerik, and who were severely exposed to Strontium-90 and Caesium-137 when trying to return in the 1970s.

Crawford’s idea to show the impact of the bomb on the East Coast started a trend of Doomsday scenarios. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who had fled the Nazis to Chicago, created Nuclear I and Nuclear II in which he painted smoke and nuclear warheads into what a curator gratingly called “shiny spheres of pleasing colors,” one of them on top of a skyscraper or urban grid-like pattern.


Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Nuclear II, 1946

Painters struggled to find an adequate visual language. Peter Blume’s The Rock tries to balance decay and rebirth. But his rock looks like the Manhattan Project scientists’ worst nightmare the night before Trinity. And the rebirth on the left (!)side of the painting is hardly convincing given the expression of the workers. This painting was commissioned for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water but proved “too big” and was given to the Art Institute Chicago instead.


Peter Blume, The Rock, 1944-1948

Philip Evergood had been painting about fascism, racism, and exploitation in the 1930s and 40s. Renunciation (1946) is similarly easy to read. The mushroom cloud rises, human civilization in form of ships and submarines evaporates, apes and monkeys take over. The novel Planet of the Apes was published in 1963 by the way.

Evergood, like many other formerly activist artists, moved to symbolism, biblical and mythological subjects in the 1950s.


Philip Evergood, Renunciation, 1946

George Grosz had left Germany in 1933 as a famous anti-war and left leaning political painter. He struggled in exile but created “Cain or Hitler in Hell” in 1944; and his Stick Men series (1946-47) showed wasted bodies in apocalyptic landscapes. While not painting the bomb directly, he criticized Abstract Expressionists as “painters of holes” in a world of war and ruin.

George Grosz, The Painter of the Hole I, 1947 

Concerns about the Cold War turning into a nuclear war led to the organization of the Federal Civil Defense Administration in 1950. The public was instructed to “Duck and Cover” like Bert the Turtle, build fallout shelters and read edifying books such as “How to Survive an Atomic Bomb” by Richard Gerstell – because hats and long sleeves might just do the trick.

In 1951 the Las Vegas Army Air Corps Gunnery School’s bombing range was turned into the Nevada Test Site. The wedding, divorce and gambling had been booming but casinos wereafraid people would stay home. So they went on the offensive. Slim Gaillard had written the song Atomic Cocktail in 1945: That’s the drink that you don’t pour / When you take one sip you won’t need anymore / If you’re as small as a beetle or big as a whale / Boom! Atomic Cocktail. Las Vegas ignored the irony and turned it into a pleasing mix of vodka, brandy, sherry, champagne, served with an orange wedge over dry ice for effect at atomic viewing parties on rooftop bars or during Miss Atomic pageants. 

Postcard of the Pioneer Club and Las Vegas Club, Las Vegas, circa 1950s

The Atomic Age led to incredible improvements in photography. Harold "Doc" Edgerton was approached by the Atomic Energy Commission to create a camera that would be able to make the details of the athmospheric tests visible. He developed the Rapid Action Electronic Shutter, replacing the mechanical shutter with an electromagnetic field, leading to exposure times of 1/100,000,000 of a second. To create a sequence of events an array of up to twelve cameras was set up to record sequentially. 

Did the bomb create art? These images leave the viewer fascinated and often clueless about scale. They are now part of many collections.


Harold Edgerton, Tumbler Snapper, Nevada 1952

The only one who ever seems to have made art about the Nevada Test Site is the photographer Emmet Gowin, who managed to be allowed three helicopter flyovers in 1996/1997. The most visible traces then were the craters from underground testings.


Emmet Gowin, Subsidence Crater and the Yucca Fault. Looking North on Yucca Flat, Nevada Test Site, 1996

Ben Shahn was a graphic artist, photographer, and painter, who had been political throughout his career, working with Diego Rivera and Walker Evans. He was the Office of War Information but left when the war became a product to be sold with glossy patriotism. In 1953 he painted Second Allegory, in which he shows a helpless human exposed to the wrath of Senator McCarthy’s arm as well as the destructive force of the atomic bomb.


Ben Shahn, Second Allegory, 1953


After the discovery of espionage at Los Alamos and the Soviet Joe-1, the American hydrogen bomb test on March 1, 1954 was conducted without media circus or attending artists. The secrecy also meant that neighboring nations were not informed. Castle Bravo produced a three times higher radioactive yield than scientists had expected. The fallout affected attending crews, unsuspecting Marshallese and drifted measurably over Asia, Australia, and Europe.

A Japanese fishing boat 80 miles away from Bikini should have been outside the danger zone. However, the Lucky Dragon No.5 was immersed in radioactive ash that the 23 men breathed in and cleaned off their boat with bare hands. They all fell ill with radiation sickness, secrecy delayed proper treatment and one fisherman died. The Godzilla/Kaiju genre was based on this incident.

It is impossible to know how many outsider and self-taught artists addressed the bomb, however one of them has found posthumous fame. Eugene von Bruenchenhein was an obsessive creator of photography, poetry, paintings, and sculpture, none seen outside his local studio. The H-Bomb test impressed him into painting the explosion in apocalyptic colors and started a series of explosive bursts and threatening monsters.


Eugene von Bruenchenhein, H Bomb, 1954

Harper’s Magazine commissioned Ben Shahn to illustrate an article by Manhattan Project scientist Ralph E. Lapp about Lucky Dragon No.5 in 1957.

The mushroom cloud that had been present in earlier paintings now turned into a dragon, the beast of the atoll. 


Ben Shahn, The Beast of the Atoll, 1957

Shahn then travelled to Japan himself, created a series of paintings, and in 1965 produced the book Kuboyama and the Saga of the Lucky Dragon with text by Richard Hudson, founder of the Center for War/Peace Studies.


Ben Shahn, The Lucky Dragon, We Did Not Know What Happened To Us, 1960

Stop H-Bomb Tests is a screenprint poster that Ben Shahn made in 1960 for the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, continuing his progressive engagement with a blunt anti-bomb message. 


Ben Shahn, Stop the H-Bomb Tests 1960 

Ionizing Radiation is invisible. The warning sign was created Berkley as three curved blades emanating from a central point. What started as magenta on blue in 1946 became magenta on yellow or black on yellow. From 1946 to 1963, the US, USSR, UK, France, and China conducted over 500 atmospheric nuclear tests, oblivious to the consequences for the health of troops or downwinders. Whether it was unknown, plain forbidden or just unpaintable, I’m still looking.

In the US it took until 1990 to implement the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act that is supposed to help atomic veterans, workers, miners and Downwinders pay their horrendous medical bills. New Mexicans from the Trinity Test Site are still fighting for inclusion into RECA, but the claim period ends this May. The photographer Carole Gallagher published her book American Ground Zero, The Secret Nuclear War, in 1993 after ten years of research and documentation.

Pop Art (and the Cuban Missile Crisis) revived the bomb. Representative art and “low subject matter” like the mushroom cloud was back. And high art reveled in references to popular culture, advertisements, films, and comics.

Andy Warhol created Red Explosion (Atomic Bombs) as part of his Death and Disaster Series, probably using a test photo published in Life Magazine in 1955. Like the tests that were hardly news any longer, the repetition normalizes the bomb and hints at how desensitized the public had become. “The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away.”  

It could also illustrate the domino effect of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Andy Warhol, Red Explosion (Atomic Bomb), 1963/65


Roy Lichtenstein's Atom Burst took the omnipresent mushroom cloud and gave it the Ben-Day-dot treatment. It may be meant as irony or parody but it is too easily turned into meaningless living room décor. 

It is also incredible how many fine art websites peddle public domain images and pop artsy AI creations of the atomic bomb for your sophisticated or patriotic (?) home.


Roy Lichtenstein, Atom Burst, 1965


James Rosenquist had been a billboard painter and for F-111 he painted 23 panels to cover multiple walls. F-111 was the newest combat plane and bomber of the time and Rosenquist throws it into a vivid consumerist world in which the two mushroom clouds fit right in with hairdryers and canned spaghetti. It may be social critique but it is now an Instagram wall at MoMA.


James Rosenquist, F-111, 1964-1965



Robert Rauschenberg is bound to have included nuclear images into his work. It is however impossible to identify them online. I’m going to look at lot closer at the rockets and clouds he frequently used in his work when I see it in a museum.


While Dr. Strangelove 1964 contained a rather unflattering depiction of a Nazi nuclear scientist, the trend in the 1960s science fiction was to show nuclear experts as heroes. 

Perry Rhodan, a weekly serial, started in 1961 in Germany, in which the hero with the help of mutants created by the atom bomb, immortal aliens and increasingly bigger and better weapons unifies and saves the universe over and over again (over 3200 magazines so far).


Another example is Doctor Solar who is a scientist at a government nuclear research facility known as "Atom Valley." He can absorb radiation and store it up for his own use, saving the world from nuclear weapons and accidents.

Science fiction and cover art of the bomb is another field that would be worth a detour. 

Nancy Spero reacted to the Vietnam War with an “angry” (because women with an opinion are always angry while men have a point?) series of drawings of mushroom shaped explosions. Instagram would probably censor the male bombs, Spero was also more interested in women as sexual, political, and economic victims of war, and the figure of the mourning mother.  War Series was created between 1966 and 1970 but didn’t get a showing until the 1980s.


Nancy Spero, Bomb and Victims, 1967 


In 1967 a group of artists created a portfolio and show, Artists and Writers Protest Against the War in Viet Nam. One of the works was Carol Summers, Kill for Peace (also a song title by The Fugs, 1966). 

A big red X over a portrait of mother and children. One reading is about are targeted killing of civilians, another the rejection of the Madonna and Child trope that is used by artists and photographers to humanize war, but which also links war to almost necessary religious suffering. We have also become pretty indifferent to it.


Carol Summer, Kill for Peace, 1967

Ad Reinhardt, the Abstract Expressionist, had criticized Ralston Crawford’s Crossroads show in 1946: "Do crooked shapes and twisted lines represent paintings adjustment to the atomic age - no." For the Protest against Viet Nam portfolio, Reinhardt therefore created a radical solution, amounting to an artist strike: No Art of/in/to/on/by/from/about/for/with/as War.


Ad Reinhardt, No War, 1967

How to handle the bomb then? With puzzling installations or meticulous artistic copies of majestic mushroom clouds like Robert Longo in his 2003-2008 series Sickness of Reason? His two-meter-high charcoal drawings supposedly “illustrate the destructive potential of atomic energy on a cinematic scale.” But are they so different from Charles Bittinger’s paintings?


Robert Longo, Hercules, 2008 

Tony Price repurposed the materials found at salvage yards and Ed Grothus’ Black Hole in Los Alamos (quite the cleanup site later) into Atomic Art. He turned them into masks that fused native imagery with nuclear parts or beautiful and disturbing objects to wake the audience to the realities and dangers of the atomic age. https://tonypriceatomicartist.com/archive/video/


Tony Price, Nuclear Pacifier


Warning and provocation is obvious in Judy Chicago and Donald Woodman’s Holocaust Project in which they draw parallels between the Banality of Evil of the Holocaust and the nuclear industry. With the focus on her feminist agenda this work seems to be regarded as an aside, barely mentioned in articles or her big retrospective show.

Judy Chicago / Donald Woodman, Banality of Evil – Then and Now, 1989, See No Evil/Hear No Evil, 1989

Maybe black humor is all that is left?

Dennis Larkin combines kitsch and horror in his paintings. Less subtle and a lot more fun than Pop Art. Garden Party is based on a real photograph of a real VIP seating area at a real atomic test.

Dennis Larkin, Garden Party

VIP observers watching the explosion of an atomic bomb in Operation Greenhouse on Enewetak Atoll, 1951

Photography and text or Show and Tell really seems the most appropriate way to address the atomic age . Patrick Nagatani used different forms of photography and montage to create Nuclear Enchantment Sites based on the nuclear industry in New Mexico, aka the Land of Enchantment. He collaborated with writer Joel Weishaus and the text was an equal part of the first exhibition in 1991.


Patrick Nagatani, Trinity Site, Jornada del Muerto, 1989, Joel Weishaus, Wings over Trinity


Everything surrounding the bomb is restricted and behind fences. Peter Goin managed to go to sites in Nevada, Washington, and Bikini to create his book Nuclear Landscapes. He calls them “landscapes of fear” and records an encounter with personnel at Hanford who asks him if he is wearing a bathing suit in case he needs to be scrubbed since the decontamination personnel are women. The preservation of modesty being obviously the most important aspect in this scenario.


Peter Goin, Burial Trench, Hanford, 1991



Richard Misrach’s Bravo 20 project stands out. Not a nuclear test site, but an area in Nevada that the Navy used for (illegal) high-explosive bomb tests. He got access by buying mining shares. His book includes eerie photos of Mad Max landscapes, a mind-boggling essay by Myriam Weisang Misrach about The Land, and a Proposal for a Bravo 20 National Park. The last may still come in handy, abandoned military cleanup sites often end up as wildlife and recreation areas.


Richard Misrach, Bomb, Destroyed Vehicles, and Lone Rock, 1987

The progress in color photography made incredible photos of horrific events possible. The bomb became a thing of beauty, awful and awesome. The Washington Post didn't think the real photos of the hydrogen test of Castle Bravo were impressive enough in its article for the 70th anniversary and used a photo of a 1970s French test at Moruroa, French Polynesia, instead. 

The last nuclear tests there were run in 1995 and 1995, the atolls are in danger of collapsing and guarded by the French military.

 

Agence France Press, Licorne, 1970

The voices of the people not part of the Western art circle are only slowly entering the public discourse. They are often the most impacted by the mining, testing and waste of nuclear colonialism.

The British tested their nuclear weapons from 1952 to 1963 at three sites in Australia, mainly Maralinga, SA. The Aboriginal people of the area were never properly informed, the Australian government only "discovered" the widespread Plutonium contamination of the cleaned up area in 1984.

Mima Smart and Rita Bryant, Maralinga banner detail, acrylic on canvas, full size 1.5m

by 3m. First exhibited at Tandanya

National Aboriginal Cultural

Institute in 2016


Nuclear contamination from abandoned uranium mines is rampant across the Navajo Nation. Workers died of lung cancer, people are left without access to safe drinking water. With new mines in the talks, Navajo artists are raising awareness through street art projects and exhibitions. A Black doctor, Chip Thomas, living on the reservation is at the center of that art movement. Jetsonorama’s “Atomic (r)Age” features newspaper articles about hidden casualties of the Atomic Age and family pictures of victims.


Jetsonorama’s installation ““Atomic r(Age)” (2017)

The last atmospheric test was in 1980 which bears the question if the  mushroom cloud is still relevant? The graphic artist Theo Deutinger shows the 12,765 nuclear warheads worldwide and wishes for a mysterious disarming force like pac-man.

This poster was part of the "Artists Against the Bomb" exhibition in New York in 2023.


Theo Deutinger 2022 

Maybe to have impact today, memes and kittens, easily printable on posters, t-shirts and mugs, are the way to go. 

Harrell Fletcher created this poster for "Artists Against the Bomb" in collaboration with ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.


Harrell Fletcher 2022

Given my situation, I will continue to wrestle with how to visualize the invisible, the hidden, the secret, the rather forgotten.


And there will be more mushroom clouds, archival ones I very much hope.

Atomic Art