Robert McCall, the space artist whose work depicting man’s conquest of the moon covers an entire wall of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, died Friday at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn Hospital, according to the National Space Society of Phoenix. He was 90.
In addition to his concept sketches for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Disney’s The Black Hole, and iconic poster art for Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, McCall’s visions of the final frontier were used by NASA and the U.S. Postal Service, which commissioned him to commemorate many of the greatest moments in space travel history in the form of postage stamps (some of which have been carried to the moon and back).
His six-story “Tour of the Universe” mural wraps 27,000 square feet of canvas around the rotunda at the Challenger Space Center in Peoria. It took six months for McCall to complete and is believed to be the largest mural in Arizona. For a mural at the Horizons Pavilion at Disney’s EPCOT Center, McCall took on the daunting task of illustrating human history on Earth — the result was “The Prologue and the Promise.”
Born in Ohio and later transplanted to Paradise Valley in the 1970s, McCall served on the boards of the Arizona Science Center and Scottsdale Center for the Arts, and on the Governor’s Space Commission. In 2007 the artist donated much of his personal collection to become the foundation of the University of Arizona Museum of Art’s Visual Arts Archive in Tucson, where it is on permanent display.
“I paint a future that is an achievable one, but also idyllic. It’s a dream. It’s a hope. Space is an endless journey, and the fact that it’s endless is part of the mystery, the wonder, and the joy of it.”
Robert McCall has chronicled much of our journey to the stars. With recent drastic cutbacks to America’s space exploration program, let’s hope the dream does not die with him.
Image credits: Robert McCall, via University of Arizona Alumnus
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