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Retro Future: Space Art Update

Link - article by Avi Abrams

"Gentlemen! - Forward, Into the Past!"

It's been some time since we featured glorious space futuristic illustrations from the past (read our previous articles: Retro Future: To The Stars! Part 3, Part 2 and Part 1).

So today we will once again travel into the world of obscure East-Block and hard-to-find Western pulp 1950s illustrations to see "What Future Used To Be"... in regards to space exploration (long live our memory of the Space Shuttle, alas) and the great starry yonder where no one has gone before.

Flash Gordon's spaceship is still the most fascinating / colorful -

(image via)

Rarely seen illustrations from 1950s Germany:

(art by Kurt Roschl, Germany)

American Space Pulp Illustration

We featured some pulp science fiction artwork before, but the poetry and glamour of Golden Age space illustrations will never fade with us - and so requires constant re-visiting:

(Illustration by Ed Emshwiller to "Have Space-Suit, Will Travel" by Robert A. Heinlein)

The anatomy of a spaceship is revealed in this dramatic image by Frank R. Paul, Air Wonder Stories August 1929:

(art by Frank R. Paul)

More Frank R. Paul spaceship action (from "Dynamic Science Fiction" pulp):

An awesome planetary exploration vehicle: Lunar Gyro-Scope, from the Mechanix Illustrated 1959:

(image via)

Very cool interior of a planetary base, by Alexander Leydenfrost:

"Lunar Explorers", art by Jack Coggins (this spider would give me the creeps, if I were on the Moon with them):

(image via)

Beautiful 1940s-era spaceship, from "The Stars Look Down" by Lester Del Rey:

(illustration by Hubert Rogers, Astounding Stories August 1940)

Less elaborate, with cleaner lines is this Imperial ship from "The Logic of Empire" by Robert A. Heinlein:

(illustration by Hubert Rogers, Astounding Stories, March 1941)

The guy in this rocket seems to be very excited, and also very "low-tech":

(cover by Howard V. Brown to Astounding Stories, September 1934, via)

Before the Death Star, there were... the mighty spherical spaceships from Jack Williamson's mind-boggling space operas:

(cover by Howard V. Brown to Astounding Stories, August 1935)

Dangers of the Space-ways! Dramatic encounter with a black-hole-like entity is shown on the cover to "Second Stage Lensmen" by E. E. Doc Smith:

(illustration by Hubert Rogers, Astounding Stories, December 1941)

Probably the most famous classic story of men's encounter with ferocious alien being: the "Black Destroyer", by A. E. Van Vogt:

(illustration by Gladney, Astounding Stories July 1939)

When men meet alien blobs, the result will likely be fatal to humans and nutrient-enriching to blobs:

(Virgil Finlay's illustration to Richard Matheson's story "Being" - IF, August 1954)

Very mysterious / esoteric "Master of the Universe" artwork, extolling the virtues of going into space -

(illustration by Virgil Finlay for Astounding Stories, 1945)

More great space scenes from the 1950s:

(left: art by Welker, from the Illustrated history of Space, 1953 - via)

These guys mean business:

(art by Alexander Leydenfrost - via)

Simply beautiful -

(art by Alexander Leydenfrost - via)

Psychedelic swirls abound in space...

(art from a space gun toy box, circa 1950)

Going back to Victorian illustration, we found this beautiful image of star fields clinging to a tree, by famous fairy-themes artist Dorothy P. Lathrop:

(art by Dorothy P. Lathrop)


Vintage LP Sleeves Are Ooozing Space All Over!

Space-Age hit instrumentals from the 1960s, of course, came with their share of cosmic adventure covers:

But even as late as 1977, Jeff Lynne from Electric Light Orchestra has commissioned Japanese artist Shusei Nagaoka to create the cover for his "Out of the Blue" masterpiece:

(cover art by Shusei Nagaoka)


Meanwhile in Russia...

Great space-themed paintings by the Russian futurist artist Andrei Sokolov (who also collaborated with the Soviet cosmonaut-painter Alexey Leonov). This rare collection came from a set of postcards "The Space Fantasy" (Kosmitcheskaya phantasya, 1963):

(art by Andrei Sokolov, Russia 1970s-1980s)

Andrei Sokolov's colorful alien landscapes were regular feature inside the Soviet youth-oriented magazines like "Tekhnika Molodezhi" and "Yuny Tekhnik" in the 1970s. Another great Russian space artist was Nikolai Kolchitsky - his work mostly pre-dated space era, being published in the 1950s popular science books:

(art by Nikolai Kolchitsky, Russia 1940s-1950s)

See the whole collection of Nikolai Kolchitsky art here.

Other East-Block Cold War Era Illustrations

(art by Zdenek Burian)

Another rare and interesting artist from the 1930s and 1940s was Zdenek Burian - a Czech illustrator since the late 1920s (more info):

(art by Zdenek Burian)

Gennady Golobkov's "Squirrel from Space" (left) and "In the Park; 75th Parallel":

(art by Gennady Golobkov)

Yuly Schwetz evocative artwork, from 1972 Soviet magazine:

"The Kosmokrator" spaceship from the first novel by Stanislaw Lem "The Astronauts" (1951) - illustration by the Czech artist Teodor Rotrekl:

(art by Teodor Rotrekl)

The whole Communist industry is working for the benefit of space exploration on this postcard, issued in 1958:

So, here we have a slice of the space-bound retro future from the 1940s and 1950s - till next time in our favorite series: To The Stars!

(illustration to T. D. Hamm's "Native Son", Imagination, July 1953)





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Blogger Eric Hammond said...

Beautiful stuff, as always!

Anonymous Gregoryno6 said...

Images that stretch the mind. Thanks again, DRB.

Anonymous John Silver said...

The future isn't what it used to be.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tsk. I'm surprised. That's not a "black hole-like entity" on the cover to 'Second Stage Lensman'; that is a _negasphere_.

Anonymous The Rat King said...

Holy crap, the Russian drew Wall-E first...

Blogger Domus said...

Awesome stuff, DRB!

>Holy crap, the Russian drew Wall-E first...

More like he drew a Commie-E. :D

Anonymous Victor said...

I put on my red/blue anaglyph 3-D glasses and went blind staring at the red/blue Russian cards! Thanks!


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