VIDEO | MID-CENTURY MODERN :: «AMERICAN LOOK» ::: AMERICAN INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, 1958 + NIXON VS. KHRUSHCHEV IN MOSCOW, 1959

Ah, propaganda. Don’t you just love it? (Especially if you’re in agreement with the point-of-view on display?)

The Internet Archives calls American Look “the definitive Populuxe film on 1950s automotive, industrial, interior and architectural design.” I call it the definitive guide to consumption, circa 1958.

There are amazing conveniences on display in this film. Also on display is blatant America boosterism.

Which got me thinking that, although the Chevrolet Division of the General Motors Corporation sponsored this film, it could easily have been produced by the United States Office of War Information (Cold War Division).

For, the year after the film was produced, America took its lifestyle on the road, setting up a pavilion in Moscow’s Sokolniki Park to demonstrate the material superiority of life in the west.

The American National Exhibition, 1959: “Let’s compare washing machines! And Women!”

Associated Press, The Great Debate … U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon, in dark suit, gestures as he talks with Soviet Premier Khrushchev, left during their tour of American Exhibition in Moscow this summer, 24 July 1959

Photo > William Safire

Photo > Howard Sochurek

How Americans cook, from the American National Exhibition, Sokolniki Park, Moscow, 1959

Photo > from the collection of Dr Shelly Weinig

Original caption: Household chores in the future will be gone for the American housewife at the touch of a button or the wave of a hand. A floor cleaner, (lower left) will scrub, mop, vacuum, wax or polish floors; meals will be selected, cooked and served in seconds, all automatically, by remote control in the RCA Whirlpool Miracle Kitchen of the future. A serving cart will walk to the table, load, scrape, wash, dry and store dishes. The Miracle Kitchen will be displayed for six weeks, beginning July 4, 1959, at the American National Exhibition in Moscow. This is the first official U.S. Government display ever held in the Soviet Union.

Photo > © Bettmann/CORBIS

postscript

What happened to the “dome and fan” @ Sokolniki Park?

According to Wikimapia, the dome stood in the park for a long while after the summer of 1959. If you click on the screenshot below, you can see that remnants of the exhibition still remain in Moscow.

from WIKIMAPIA:

Павильон № 2 Культурно-выставочного центра «Сокольники» (ЗАО «МВК») (Москва)

Павильон был построен к Американской выставке 1959 года в Сокольниках. Фактура крыши зигзагообразная. Раньше стены били полностью стеклянными, теперь остекление частичное(только верхняя часть и подъезды).

Категории: pavilion exhibition centre interesting place

Pavilion № 2 Cultural and Exhibition Center “Sokolniki” (MVK) (Moscow)

The pavilion was built for the American exhibition in 1959 in Sokolniki. Texture roof zigzag. Previously, the walls were beaten in full glass, now glazed partial (only the upper part and entrances).

Categories: pavilion, exhibition centre. interesting place

Dan I. Slobin | “Excerpts from a 1959 journal: U.S. Exhibition in Moscow” | PDF

LIFE | “At the Fair, Fascinated Russians Flock to U.S. Exhibits

Internet Archives | “American Look” from the Prelinger Archives

Wikipedia | Kitchen Debate

Andrew Wulf | “The ‘Sokolniki Summit’ Revisited” | PDF

Kitchen Debate | A Research Project on Cold War Material Culture

Creative Review | “Design as Weapon of the Cold War

YouTube | American National Exhibition in Moscow, 1959

Bibliothèque | Cold War Modern

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YouTube | The Kitchen Debate (Nixon and Khrushchev, 1959) Part I of II

YouTube | The Kitchen Debate (Nixon and Khrushchev, 1959) Part II of II

Victoria & Albert Museum | Cold War Modern: Design 1945-1970

The New York Times | “The Post-Materialist | Cold War Modern

William Safire, The New York Times | “The Cold War’s Hot Kitchen

Wikipedia | Sokolniki Park




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