Painting the Race to Space
September 5, 2016 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Norman Rockwell, Walt Disney, Wernher von Braun, space habitats and moon landings - the improbable, bold history of space concept art.
posted by Artw (10 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Some more great art here: The Great 1952 Space Program That Almost Was
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

Normal Rockwell...

Never has a typo said so much.

These are great paintings. Many thanks!
posted by Thorzdad at 10:40 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a book (it seems to be called La rivincita di Icaro - La Storia Illustrata dell'Astronautica) from a mid70s illustrated sciences collection about the history of astronautics that features a lot of these drawings, as well as gorgeous full-page Soviet and NASA photos.
Lil'me spent hours as a kid turning those space shuttle concepts into 7-inch cardstock models. One of them was actually pretty good at gliding.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:54 AM on September 5, 2016

Mod note: Denormalized, carry on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:07 AM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

The link to the io9 story about von Braun's 1952 plans is definitely worth a read, not just for the cool concept art. Their ideas remain the foundation of how we expect to explore Mars.

And here are the three PDFs of the high-res scans of the Collier's magazine article in question from the Sept/Oct 2013 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics newsletter:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
posted by briank at 11:11 AM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

There's also the movie Conquest of Space, "See how it will happen in your lifetime!"
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on September 5, 2016

That Rockwell painting is incredible and I had never seen it before. Great find Artw!
posted by bukvich at 11:55 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Norman Rockwell was a member of a men's club called the Monday Evening Club, where he delivered several talks about his space program paintings. I transcribed one of them from a typescript with handwritten notes which is in the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. In this, he talks about how the Man on the Moon painting was done.
posted by beagle at 1:10 PM on September 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you're interested in this pre-nasa vision of spaceflight you ought to check out Breaking the Chains of Gravity by Amy Shira Teitel. She speaks about these early plans for space exploration as well and earlier ones all the way back to peacetime dreams of Nazi rocket scientists.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 1:17 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Great post, but I'm a little annoyed that Chesley Bonestell gets so little respect—a casual mention or two in each link. You can't talk about space art without talking about Bonestell (which is, I believe, pronounced BAHN-ess-tell, three syllablles, from some Occitan/Catalan form meaning 'good star').
posted by languagehat at 1:48 PM on September 5, 2016 [5 favorites]

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