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The Art of Robert McCall: A Celebration of Our Future in Space Hardcover – September 1, 1992
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From Library Journal
McCall may not be a household name, but his art is instantly recognizable as some of the most memorable icons depicting space exploration. The space station poster from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey , the space mural at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, and numerous U.S. Postal commemorative issues all bear his distinctive stamp, one that enthusiastically celebrates space achievements and projects an optimistic future in which high technology exists in harmony with nature. Despite Ray Bradbury's overwrought introduction, this collection presents McCall at his best, including 30 works not published before. As such, it updates Ben Bova's previous collection of McCall's art, Vision of the Future ( LJ 2/15/83). It will appeal to space buffs and should be a useful addition to collections that already have Bova's book and the classic space art collection Eyewitness to Space (1971. o.p.).
- Thomas J. Frieling, Bainbridge Coll., Ga.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
This book captures his paintings like no other. Thank you for publishing this book!!
It's lamentable that we haven't fulfilled this goal - but I feel art like this is essential in capturing the imagination and starting a conversation with questions of "what if."
Buy it for yourself and use it to inspire a new generation.
As soon as this book became available I had my copy on order. For any artist that ever dreams big, for any astronomer that dreams of life in the cosmos, for anyone with a spirit of adventure, this is the book for you.
ENJOY - and KEEP LOOKING UP !
As the introduction points out, "The dawning of the space age was as profound an event as the European discovery of the Americas..." (1). McCall documented the first few years with his 16' x 72' mural located in the Johnson/NASA Space Center in Houston (as in "Houston, we have a problem" fame), entitled "Opening the Space Frontier--the Next Giant Step", 1979. It is a collage of the events of the first two decades, beginning with the first manned space flight through the space shuttle missions of the 1970's and '80's and looks ahead to permanently manned space stations.
The painting that will bring your heart into your throat is "First Men on the Moon," 7' x 9' oil on canvas. It depicts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon, holding the American flag, the space shuttle in the background and a half-lit Earth in the sky. A magnificent painting!
Remember the date June 17, 1975? McCall records this event on canvas: the
the joining in orbit of the U.S. Apollo and the Soviet Soyuz during an historical lull in the Cold War.
Two more events depicted by McCall as official pictorial historian are these: "Hail Columbia, April 12, 1981," marking America's return to space after half a decade of groundwork. Against a sky of a giant muted flag showing three red stripes and two stars, rises the Columbia--a stirring patriot celebration of a monumental achievement. The next page shows the Columbia landing on a runway of red and white stripes with a star-spangled sky above. McCall says of the two events: "What struck me was the contrast between the sound and the fury of Columbia's launch and the utter calm and quiet of the landing." It truly is amazing to see that he painted these exact descriptions into these works of art.
In Part Two he records the projected and eventual explorations of the Moon and Mars. Related but different, a famous painting is this one: "2001," 48" x 31" and located in the National Air and Space Museum. Yes, you are right, the painting was done for the movie, "2001, Space Odyssey." Another reviewer calls the paintings in this section "science fiction," obviously accurate, but I am still claiming "space art," because many of the "events" he paints have uncannily happened.
Part Three is a compilation of paintings of what he deems possible on Earth in the future, a celebration of what man can do with technology and his own humanity. This is a very optimistic collection. Part Four is his dream section where he allows his imagination free roam. He sees that we will defeat gravity to build cities in the sky.
Part Five is truly visionary. The last painting in the book--"Gloria in Excelsis Deo," 12' x 22' acrylic on canvas, was commissioned by the Valley Presbyterian Church, Paradise, Arizona, for its choir practice room. The painting is awe-inspiring and shows the merger of the secular and the spiritual. It is a breath-taking combination.
I happen to have this autographed copy because Robert McCall came to my hometown for an exhibit of his works at a local university, an exhibit celebrating the publication of the book. What the book does is to nationally recognize that McCall's name is indelibly linked with space exploration. Once you have seen his glorious, great paintings, they and McCall will be indelibly imprinted into your heart and mind. Highly recommended.
This isn't the usual science fiction art you see; it is more based on the realistically possible than the utterly impossible (exceptions being a few paintings for Star Trek and such), lying somewhere in between the strange imagery of Wayne Barlowe and the illustrations of space shuttles and planets from your childhood school textbooks.
This includes various murals for NASA, science conventions, Disney's EPCOT, and even a church. Also included are some of his concept sketches and cover art for Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: Space Odyssey. While his art isn't as detailed as that of, for example, Frank Frazetta's or Richard Corben's--some of McCall's paintings seem almost possible to file under "impressionism"--he proves more imagination and dedication to the genre than either of the other two forementioned talents combined.
What I like most about Robert McCall's science fiction art is, as stated earlier, it being closer to what's actually possible, while still retaining the imaginative aspects. It only makes me eager for a future which will probably come decades after my generation becomes as old as our parents, one we will never live but our children might. Another plus is the introductory paragraphs by Ray Bradbury, basically interesting musings and anecdotes about Robert McCall and science/science fiction in general.
Excuse me while I go to the moon...