Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

Future Forcaster Radebaugh

Written by James Vaughan • April 19th, 2010
Future Forcaster Radebaugh

“Closer Than We Think!” shouts the headline. It looks like a comic and probably ran in the funnies section of the Sunday Chicago Tribune and it’s affiliates. During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s artist Arthur Radebaugh forecast a soon to be techno-future of magical and fantastic innovation. As a regular feature in widespread newspaper syndication, his cartoon like “Closer Than We Think!” may have fired more imaginations of the Atomic Age than any other single print source.

Arthur Radebaugh (1906-1974) was an artist and engineering illustrator whose flights of futuristic fantasy are ripe for greater appreciation. Radebaugh’s long career involved work for the Detroit auto companies, design firms, advertising and even the military. His work was enjoyed by millions, yet there are no anthologies of his work and very little available on internet. It is not Radebaugh’s artwork but his unbounded childish imagination which makes his creations so enjoyable. Any self-respecting engineer would look at his prognostications and pronouce him a nut-job!

Like other futurist illustrators of the mid-century he takes the slimmest scientific idea and runs halfway to Proxima-Centauri with it! Facts would merely be an artistic frustration! His forecasts are unfettered by small problems like the laws of physics, good tast or any hint of practicality. Do we really need rocket powered mailmen? Is it a wise idea to melt the polar ice caps to drill for oil? Who knows and who cares! We’ll have see thru swimming pools shaped like stadium sized martini-glasses and suburban houses floating on anti-gravity generators! Let’s do it because we can- and it looks cool! Let’s do it because “IT’S CLOSER THAN WE THINK!”

Note: most of the examples of “Closer Than We Think” have been preserved and presented by Paleo-future

James Vaughan

James Vaughan was born in 1955, resides in Ohio and has taught at Kent State University. James spends his days photographing conceptual and editorial style studio photography.

Find out more about James Vaughan

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