Art in the atomic age
I'm putting together a lesson for an 8th grade history class, and I could use some help. I'm looking for modern art that expresses the doom of the atomic age. We just wrapped up the Yalta Conference, and the past few lessons have been information-rich. I want to transition into the Cold War with less fact and more feeling. Can somebody suggest pieces that are born from the war, the atomic bomb, or the early cold war?
I'm looking at Robert Frank's photography, but this is for 8th grade kids. Very literal would be best. Think 'Guernica', but related to the Cold War.
Japanese, Soviet or Polish art would be great.
Thanks Lounge. I haven't plumbed your depths for a while.
Yeah, I'm no help....
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The first thing that occurred to me was life magazine photos, or pictures of public school black out drills from the 50's. I'm not really aware of any really good cold war/ nuclear era art work.
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Henry Moore's sculpture Nuclear Energy looks like a mix of a skull and mushroom cloud. Kind of creepy. Enrico Fermi created nuclear fission near that spot.
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Quite a few people have made the argument that sci-fi about alien invasions, UFOs and alien abductions were driven by sublimated fears of nuclear annihilation.
And of course there's Forbidden Planet. It's the Tempest in space, but it was also thought to be a comment on the whole question of whether man was mature enough to handle the destructive power of the atom bomb. And a durn good movie.
"jazz gives you large testicles"--aliensporebomb
It's not art per se, but the "Daisy" TV ad from LBJ's election campaign to me really captures the fear of an all out nuclear exchange a little later in the atomic age.
Not having lived the cold war (born in the 1980's) it is hard for me to understand it in a visceral sense. Props to you for using art and culture to look at the topic.
Here are a couple from he Soviet side. I don't know if the TIME cover one is real or not.
Last edited by zyzbot; 05-26-2011 at 02:24 PM.
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Jackson Pollock, from his "drip" period. Kurt Vonnegut wrote an interesting essay on Pollock's art, basically saying that the pure non-representational art - the rejection of any semblance of human or human-related shape or form - was a natural response to the horrors of WWII and the destruction threatened by the Cold War. The essay is in Vonnegut's semi-autobiograpy "Fates Worse Than Death." (Vonnegut didn't like Pollock's work, by the way, but he got paid to write the essay).
Originally Posted by Alex-in-Evanston
Still photos or posters from the movie Dr. Strangelove would be GREAT. Especially Slim Pickens riding the bomb down....
I think I prefer the "art" of nuke-minded turtles over the current "art" exhibited human centipedes. Sick.