In celebration of the 50 years since Apollo 11’s successful mission to the moon, let’s take a look back at the influence this historic moment had on the art world.
1.The paintings of Alan L. Bean
This makes the top of this list because who would be better at painting the moon than someone who’s actually been there? Alan Bean was a lunar module pilot on Apollo 12, and the fourth man to walk on the moon. After retiring from NASA in 1981, Bean began to pursue painting full time (something he’d dabbled in even before landing on the moon).
Like many artists, Alan Bean first painted earthly objects like flowers and fruit but he soon lost interest in them. He turned his attention to the moon and space after his astronaut friends pointed out that he was the “only artist that’s ever been anywhere else but this earth”.
Some of Bean’s paintings have included moon dust and patches from his space suit.
Look at more of his paintings below. (Image courtesy: alanbean.com)
2. Sketches by Paul Calle
Paul Calle was selected to participate in NASA’s Art Program. He was later hired by NASA to cover the Apollo 11 mission, where he was given close access to the astronauts. This resulted in some remarkable sketches of the astronauts suiting up on the morning of July 16th, 1969.
Calle later designed the 10 cent stamp commemorating the moon landing.
3. Moonwalk by Andy Warhol
Warhol created a silkscreen of Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon’s surface, with the American flag next to him. Warhol used an iconic photo to create this silkscreen. However, the flag was added by Warhol himself.
4. Stoned Moon Series by Robert Rauschenberg
In 1969, NASA invited artist and graphic designer Robert Rauschenberg to witness the launch of Apollo 11. He was give access to charts, maps and photographs, all of which he used to create a series of lithographs called the Stoned Moon series.
This series “juxtaposed the technical glory of space flight with the mundane Florida setting of Cape Kennedy”. Rauschenberg wanted the lithographs to be celebration of man’s collaboration with technology.
5. Space Age Landscape by William Thon
Thon was a part of NASA’s Fine Arts Program. He described his watercolour painting as such: “The subtropical climate of Florida soon reclaims an early launch tower. As the space program progressed to larger launch vehicles, smaller gantries were abandoned to seabirds, who found them to be ideal nesting places.”
6. Apollo 15 and other paintings by Michael Kagan
Brooklyn-based artist Michael Kagan took his childhood interest in space and astronauts and applied it to his art later in his life. His art has been inspired by the space age– from Apollo 11’s mission to the moon to the US Mercury mission.. In 2015, Kagan created a 6.5 foot high oil painting of Apollo 15.
Below are some of his other space-inspired paintings.