Airline Visual Identity 1945-1975

Matthias C Hühne's tome is a comprehensive collection of mid-century airline advertising


In his new book, “Airline Visual Identity 1945-1975,” Matthias C. Hühne captures the grandeur of travel in an era when passengers dressed up for their journeys. The large-format book features airplanes, world destinations, animals, flags and events through gorgeous photography, illustration and graphic design that really exemplified the glamour and luxury of airline travel. Looking at these stylish visions of Hawaii to Miami, London to Japan, it’s clear how this kind of advertising sold plane tickets.


The pages are filled with the visual language of several airlines—Pan Am, TWA, Japan Air Lines, American Airlines, Continental, Lufthansa, United and more. Each chapter reveals the imagery associated with the airline with a focus on the printed items: posters, tickets, and timetables, and details emerge that reveal a larger historical context of the evolution of air travel. (For example, Pan Am launched the first 707 Boeing when only 10% of Americans had been on a commercial flight.)

Also telling the story of how civil aviation benefitted from advances made during World War II, the book features several posters that celebrated airline design and innovation. Then there are the poetic ads: a TWA image displays city skylines and landmarks, while an Air France poster shows a plane flying into the sunset, towards a glimmering city far in the distance. The romance, adventure and sophistication of air travel permeates these beautifully designed advertisements.


Hühne tried to track down the artists who created this striking representation of the world of travel and soon discovered that unlike other carefully archived documentation of artworks, graphic designers remained mostly anonymous in this era. Homage is paid to them in this impressive tome, however, with over 436 informative and visually stunning pages.

“Airline Visual Identity 1945-1975” is published through Berlin-based company Callisto Publishers and available via Amazon for $360.

Images courtesy of Callisto