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RIP, Robert McCall 1919 - 2010
March 1, 2010 8:40 PM   Subscribe

Once described by author Isaac Asimov as the "nearest thing to an artist in residence from outer space", his artwork has appeared on stamps and mission patches, posters from epic films and even the walls of the Smithsonian Institution. Renowned space artist Robert McCall died on Friday, February 28 2010. He was 90.

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posted by bondcliff (33 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite


George Lucas, Arthur C. Clarke, or even Douglas Adams couldn't make me dream of what might be possible the way Robert McCall did. As a kid, a teenager, and even as an adult I'd pour over a coffee table book I had, imagining a future solar system with humans on every corner. I thought his paintings would become reality in my lifetime. Some of them have, some might still, but more and more it seems that some of them just ain't gonna happen any time soon. Shame.

Thanks for the dreams, Mr. McCall.
posted by bondcliff at 8:46 PM on March 1, 2010


I had the 2001 soundtrack albulm with that picture of the space station and the shuttle on it.

The Black Hole concept art is really interesting to me. God I love that weird, goofy, movie, hamfisted religious proselytizing and all...
posted by Artw at 8:56 PM on March 1, 2010

O . . . . o ∅ . . .
posted by brundlefly at 8:58 PM on March 1, 2010 [15 favorites]

Seconding you, bondcliff.

Mr. McCall is one of my art heroes.
posted by Kikkoman at 8:59 PM on March 1, 2010

Oh, damn, damn damn. My grandfather worked with him on the advertising campaign for 2001, A Space Odyssey. He and his team took the beautiful concept art Mr. McCall created for Mr. Kubrick and helped develop it into a full-fledged international campaign. Mr. McCall's work was amazing -- he was able to capture the essence of the human spirit and convey our sense of imagination, adventure and wonder in such a wonderful way.

For years I had original posters from 2001 and other movies hanging on the walls of my room. But Mr. McCall's work in particular helped spark my imagination and gave rise to my lifelong love for science and scifi.

Thank you, Mr. McCall. For showing at least one little kid that our future is truly limitless.

posted by zarq at 9:33 PM on March 1, 2010

Is it me, or does this image depict the underside of the dark arcology from Simcity 2000?
posted by invitapriore at 9:41 PM on March 1, 2010

posted by vibrotronica at 9:56 PM on March 1, 2010

posted by KingEdRa at 10:01 PM on March 1, 2010

posted by mwhybark at 10:15 PM on March 1, 2010

Oh, awesome, I have had that Lousma-Fullerton Columbia patch on a bomber jacket since the 1980s. I had no idea it was McCall.
posted by mwhybark at 10:19 PM on March 1, 2010

posted by sigmagalator at 10:32 PM on March 1, 2010

Tucked into one of the many space books on my childhood bookshelf is his Apollo-Soyuz first-day cover that someone got for me as a gift in the days when you had to go to stamp shops for such things rather than ebay.

He was able to capture the essence of the human spirit and convey our sense of imagination, adventure and wonder in such a wonderful way.


posted by Westringia F. at 1:39 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by sebastienbailard at 2:07 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by Faint of Butt at 3:19 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by futureisunwritten at 4:29 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by doctor_negative at 4:30 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by Thorzdad at 4:41 AM on March 2, 2010


This is one of those were I had no idea that he was still alive. He and John Berkey were my favorite SF illustrators.
posted by octothorpe at 4:54 AM on March 2, 2010

This fellow did a lot to shape my world and conception of it. May he be traveling far.
posted by rmmcclay at 5:57 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by gomichild at 6:19 AM on March 2, 2010

I spent a lot of time with his illustrations as a kid. It's mildly depressing that 2001 came and went without any consumer space travel, or flying cars. Maybe I'll show these to my son, maybe his generation...
posted by bashos_frog at 6:29 AM on March 2, 2010

Ah, I love those 2001 posters, but it is a tribute to John Barry that I can't even see those Black Hole pictures without that theme slamming into my head.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:13 AM on March 2, 2010

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who loved his art. I was surprised that there wasn't an obit post already and then when I went to make the post I was even more surprised that there was no Wikipedia article for him. He was a rock star in my world.
posted by bondcliff at 7:55 AM on March 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

. indeed

I never knew the name until now, but always loved the pictures. Echoing bondcliff, he and Chesley Bonestell were two of the artists who made my dreams seem a little more real.
posted by foonly at 8:04 AM on March 2, 2010

The optimism and promise of space travel is so damned cool in the guys art, you just want to jump on the next rocket ship leaving earth.

posted by Skygazer at 8:29 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by Smart Dalek at 9:04 AM on March 2, 2010

Iconic stuff. Thanks for the visions.

posted by bearwife at 9:07 AM on March 2, 2010

It just occurred to me that The Black Hole was kind of a precursor to Event Horizon. You've got your huge, gothic, creepy, presumed-lost spaceship, your insane scientist and your hapless crew of another ship pulled into his machinations. I watched that movie all the time as a kid, and it was really those images of the Cygnus that brought the score back to me. Good stuff.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:33 AM on March 2, 2010

Event Horizon is a supremely frustrating movie to me - strong start, interesting set up, it could have easily have taken directions that would have been interesting or new, but then it decides that actually it would prefer to just be Hellraiser in space.
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on March 2, 2010

Sometime I'm going to have to actually watch Sunshine. I suspect I'm going to have similar problems with it Re: Awesome space set-up, crappy resolution. And then you have things like Supernova or Pandorum...
posted by Artw at 10:17 AM on March 2, 2010

posted by Nyrath at 1:15 PM on March 2, 2010

Art, Sunshine is great, but I hated the third act, or to be more specific, elements of the third act. Despite these issues, it's tremendous. Best seen hi-rez and big, eyeball candy and fun pomo brainfood.
posted by mwhybark at 9:59 PM on March 2, 2010

I loved seeing the covers he would do for the science fiction magazine Analog.
posted by Runcible Spoon at 4:16 AM on March 3, 2010

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