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NASA/Art: 50 Years Of Exploration by James Dean and Bertram Ulrich

01/01/2012. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy NASA/Art: 50 Years Of Exploration in the USA - or Buy NASA/Art: 50 Years Of Exploration in the UK

author pic

pub: Abrams and Chronicle. 175 page illustrated large hardback. Price: $40.00 (US), $44.00 (CAN), GBP19.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-8109-7287-2.

check out websites: www.abramsbooks.comand

Back in 1962, the people at NASA decided that they needed more than photographs documenting the Mercury and later Apollo and space shuttle space programmes and called on artists to make their impressions of life in general there as well as any significant event they thought should be captured. In this book, you see the results of this interpretation.

Much of this work isn’t about the rockets. After all, Thomas Hart, one of the artists who declined the offer, said that he didn’t want to paint rockets. Indeed, they rarely turn up in this collection as the artists themselves and a free-hand focused on the people, astronauts, helpers and observers. There are occasional paintings of take-offs and such but principally there is a far greater emphasis on activities of the people involved.

There are one hundred and sixty-two paintings, illustrations and the odd photo here and there. I’m not up on all the one hundred and five names here, mostly because most of them don’t normally do space art. I mean, would you have believed Norman Rockwell has five paintings in this collection. Actually, they weren’t done for NASA per se but for a magazine but donated afterwards. Even Andy Warhol gets in on the act. A name more in our line is Robert McCall who also has one painting here. The art covers a wide range from accurate depiction to abstract. Some of the artists were loaned spacesuits to ensure the detail was correct.

If anything, the biggest surprise was not seeing artists most associated with space art like Chesney Bonestell in this book. On the other hand, you wouldn’t have seen all this other work or might have been side-lined by it.

Oh, I should point out that the cover is prismatic between showing the title and an astronaut on EVA. As you can only see one or the other, the cover shown misses the actual art.

Between each section there are text pieces that build up a potted history of NASA’s activities and if you were too young to remember the early bits than this will fill you in on this.

This is an interesting collection and if you collect space art and missed out on this one, now’s the time to add it to your collection.

GF Willmetts

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