Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sketches of the Apollo 11 Mission

Frank McMahon sketching at Ground Control,
during the Apollo 11 Mission, still from Apollo 11
During the Apollo 11 mission to the Moon in July, 1969, artists Frank McMahon, Paul Calle, and Robert McCall were officially invited to sketch the historic events on the ground as they unfolded.

Frank McMahon sketch of Houston ground control on Apollo 11
According to the Smithsonian, which preserves the sketches, the artists were dispatched to "to NASA facilities with an invitation to paint whatever interested them."

"Paul Calle produced a number of drawings documenting the morning of July 16th, 1969. He was the only artist present as the Apollo 11 astronauts suited up for their mission to the Moon."

Robert McCall, Apollo 11
Robert McCall sketched the Saturn V launch vehicle behind a natural foreground, with birds flying lazily by.

"The result," says Smithsonian, "was an extraordinary collection of works of art proving, as one observer noted, 'that America produced not only scientists and engineers capable of shaping the destiny of our age, but also artists worthy to keep them company.'"
All images are ©copyright their respective owners.
Eleven hidden space history details in new documentary 'Apollo 11'


Byron said...

Mr. Gurney, why is sketching and painting as important as photographs at that historic moment?

Jan Francoeur - Paintings - Pottery - Mosaics said...

I recognize Paul Calle's work a mile away, studied his work endlessly when learning to draw. And thank you for reintroducing me to gouache, solved some problems I was having getting certain colors when painting architecture.

Unknown said...

I think one of the reasons that sketching and painting are so important in these situations, is that these media offer greater opportunity for artistic interpretation of the event than photography can. Documentary photography is important, and would have been happening at the same time. However, drawing in live situations requires the artist to slow down, to notice what is happening around them, and to decisively choose what to include—simultaneously adding, editing, and revising. Granted the drawing in this regard stitches together many moments, unlike the instant record of the camera, allowing the drawing to capture more than just a moment. While recording the event, the artist interprets the event. I think the marriage of recording and interpreting plays a vital role in capturing important events.