27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist on Earth (And Off)

By Attila Nagy on at

"The nearest thing to an artist-in-residence from outer space." That's how Isaac Asimov once described Robert T. McCall, the renowned illustrator, conceptual artist, space-scene painter, official NASA artist, and creator of legendary movie posters including 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The third piece of our series featuring the most famous aerospace artists, beginning with Attila Héjja and Paul Fjeld, is dedicated to probably the famous space artist: Bob McCall. His work can be found on U.S. postage stamps NASA mission patches. He created concept art for several NASA programs and illustrations for magazines depicting man's conquest in space. His murals can be found on the walls of the National Air and Space Museum, the National Gallery of Art, The Pentagon, Epcot, and Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center.

But, in the unlikely case you missed the oeuvre of his prolific career, there's one artwork you've definitely seen: McCall painted the iconic movie posters for Stanley Kubrick's 1968 science fiction classic, 2001: A Space Odyssey. He passed away five years ago, on Feb. 26, 2010 at the age of 90.

Moon base

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: LIFE, Sept 28, 1959


Docking Port Space City (Space Station 2000), circa 1960s.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


America's hottest jet

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Popular Science, May 1962


The hottest ship in the world

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Popular Science, July 1962


Illustration of the two Soviet capsules – Vostok 3 and 4 – in orbit as sun rises over the Earth

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: LIFE, Aug 24, 1962


Gemini 4, c1966.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


The XB-70 tragedy

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: LIFE, Nov 11, 1966


Apollo 8 Coming Home, 1969.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: mccallstudios.com


Promotional paintings for 2001: A Space Odyssey (MGM, 1968).

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


Movie posters

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


Robert McCall holds a sheet of postage stamps commemorating the Apollo 15 lunar landing mission.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Blast Off, 1973.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


Lunar Landing, 1973.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


Handshake in Space, 1974. This painting depicts the historic docking of American and Soviet spacecraft during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project of July 1975.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Earth Orbit 98, 1977

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


Building a Space Station, c1979.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Shuttles, Stations, and Spacewalkers, 1979. On display in the auditorium at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Launch of STS-7, 1983. The first American mission to have a female astronaut, the seventh space shuttle mission, and the second mission for the Space Shuttle Challenger.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Space Shuttle, 1995.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


1997: NASA history panorama that hangs in the Virginia Air and Space Center.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA Langley Research Center


Robert McCall, working on his painting titled Opening the Space Frontier, The Next Giant Step

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Opening the Space Frontier, The Next Giant Step—on display at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Aeronautics Icons, a mural at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, showcases a host of experimental aircraft.

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA


Spaceflight

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


Take Off

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: Heritage Auctions


Six of the mission patches designed by McCall (first row: Apollo 17, ASTP, STS-71, second row: STS-1, STS-3, STS-41B)

27 Paintings From the Most Famous Space Artist On Earth (And Off)

Source: NASA