Avant Garde Looking Radios
In the early to mid 50s just before Sputnik, the consumer world was seeing several new trends. One of those was the reaction to world of modern and abstract art.
The definition of abstract art can be this:
Abstract art is art that does not attempt to represent an accurate depiction of a visual reality but instead uses shapes, colors, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect.
The more adventurous of the radio industry experimented with designs that imitated or drew inspiration from modern art. Here are a few examples.
The Emerson Model 788 and 816 was conceived in 1953 and marketed in 1954 to 1955. It was available in black, grey (light lavender), white, green and coral. It is a very rare sought after model because there are very few remaining examples.
There are several reasons why this design has an modern art quality about it. The front tuning controls jut out from the clock section. Most sectional radios are contoured longitudinally. This and Westinghouse H574 and maybe a few others are latitudinal contoured.
The most distinctive feature is the trapezoidal front tuning panel which creates a illusion of distorted space.
Giorgio de Chirico once said, “To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and common sense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams.”
1954 RCA Victor Model 6-X-8B has similarities with Cubism. But ergonomically, it is different too. It is the only radio design with a huge tuning knob positioned on top that rotates on the horizontal plane.
The RCA Victor 6-X-8B was a fairly common model and lots were sold. Available in brown, red, and green. The red one is more desirable.
Piet Mondrian, Composition with Red, Blue, and Yellow, 1930, oil on canvas, 46 x 46 cm (Kunsthaus Zürich)
The 1957 Arvin Model 2564 with its asteroid shape knobs would be jet age looking if it weren't for the Jackson Pollack style grill pattern.
No other manufacturer or radio design incorporates asymmetrical shape knobs. If it were not for these knobs, this design from Arvin would be easily forgotten. But, it is highly desirable and rare. Available in black, ivory, and green.
Jackson Pollack drip painting method creates this sense of randomness and movement but at the same time a feeling of tranquility. Above all, it appeals to our intellect to trust in the physics of the process because the results can be beautiful in the end.