Enrico Baj’s Manifesto BUM (1952) was painted for an exhibition of “Nuclear Art” at Amici della Francia Gallery in Milan. The painting features a black mushroom cloud rising against a dirty yellow background—recalling the colors of the radiation signs that were first employed during the postwar decade—overlaid with various formulas and slogans including: “The heads of men are charged with explosives / every atom is exploding”; “thought = force / forces are electrical charges”; “forms disintegrate. The new forms of man are those of the atomic universe”; and “everything = electric charge.” In keeping with the ideals of so-called “Nuclear Art,” the Manifesto BUM self-consciously departed from the forward-looking, positive agenda that characterized much abstract art of the 1950s and instead attempted to depict what Baj himself had labeled the “tragic conception of man,” the precarious psychological conditions that accompanied the nuclear age. As the slogans inscribed throughout the work demonstrate, the physical and psychological realities of the nuclear age were in fact intertwined. The hitherto secretive world of atomic physics and nuclear weaponry – and their positive and negative consequences – would punctuate social and political debates for years to come. The transcendental possibilities of space travel and nuclear power would be counteracted by a world in which nuclear destruction and radioactive contamination were ever-present.