JP Aerospace flew a bouquet of flowers and a bonsai tree to the edge of space in 2014: This art installation saw flowers being launched into the stratosphere above Nevada – Lonely Planet –
A video about the EXOBIOTANICA project:
A look at the history and status today of rendering the cosmos in paintings, drawings, digital media, and sculptures: The Art of Space Art – The Paris Review
We can trace the sparks for today’s space art as far back as Jules Verne, who published his novel Off on a Comet in 1877 with a painting by Paul Dominique Philippoteaux that imagined Saturn as more than just points of light in the sky. Before that, no one was depicting other planets as places you could stand on—places you could look up from rather than to. By the end of the nineteenth century, the astronomer Percival Lowell had begun to publish his series of illustrated books that reflected his claim that the lines he saw on Mars were artificial canals, the work of intelligent Martians. The public imagination quickened. In 1937, the French artist, author, and astronomer Lucien Rudaux published a book illustrated with what he believed the surfaces of other planets to look like. The book caught the attention of [Chesley] Bonestell, who had been working as a special effects artist in Hollywood. He began creating realistic paintings from the perspective of someone standing on the surface of the moon or Titan, publishing his work in Life in 1944. He became the most prominent name in the field, his vision bolstered by the work of a handful of iconic contemporaries such as Ludek Pesek, an artist and astronomer who’d also been inspired by Rudaux.
Today there are new inspirations and new outlets for space art:
Multiple artists I spoke with hoped that SpaceX and its competitors would widen the market for high-profile space art beyond NASA, especially since there are only so many journal covers to go around. The genre is also finally gaining acceptance in the fine-arts world; galleries that once dismissed the genre as merely illustrative are now opening their doors to space artists. One IAAA member is rendering a series of deep-space images—nebulae, galaxies, images inspired by Hubble—as quilts.
Beatriz Cortez‘s Memory Insertion Capsule and other space inspired works are included in the Mundos Alternos – Art and Science Fiction in the Americas exhibition underway at the University of California in Riverside.
A wide-ranging survey exhibition, it brings together contemporary artists from across the Americas who have tapped into science fiction’s capacity to imagine new realities, both utopian and dystopian. Science fiction offers a unique artistic landscape in which to explore the colonial enterprise that shaped the Americas and to present alternative perspectives speculating on the past and the future. In the works featured in the exhibition, most created in the last two decades, artists employ the imagery of science fiction to suggest diverse modes of existence and represent “alienating” ways of being in the world. Drawing on UCR’s strong faculty and collections in science fiction, the exhibition offers a groundbreaking account of the intersections among science fiction, techno-culture, and the visual arts.
More about Cortez and the exhibition:
- CSUN Professor’s Artwork Envisions Multicultural Space Exploration in Getty-Sponsored Exhibition | CSUN Today
- For Latino Artists in Sci-Fi Show, Everyone’s an Alien – The New York Times
Artist Jim Hervat recently pointed me to his updated gallery site: Ocean of Stars Art Gallery – Astronomical and Space Exploration Art by James Hervat