Alan Bean: Painting Apollo, First Artist on Another World

Closed on January 13, 2010

Forty years ago, the Moon received its first human visitors. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 lunar module Eagle landed, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the lunar surface. To celebrate this 40th anniversary, this exhibition presents a view of the Apollo journeys through the eyes of the first artist to visit another world.

Alan Bean became the fourth man to walk on the Moon during Apollo 12 in 1969. After 18 years as an astronaut, he resigned from NASA in 1981 to dedicate his life to the art of painting his memories of Apollo.

Employing an impressionistic style, Bean captures the spirit of Apollo with lunar landscapes, portraits of fellow moonwalkers, and views of Earth from space. His works offer glimpses of a world on which only he and 11 others have walked.

Displaying both art and artifacts, this exhibition weaves the technology of one of humankind’s greatest achievements with an artist’s firsthand account of a new frontier.

Highlights:

Tiptoeing on the Ocean of Storms

Tiptoeing on the Ocean of Storms
Acrylic on masonite
1982
Lent by Alan and Leslie Bean

Apollo 12—Bean Running on the Moon

Bean remembers running next to this crater and feeling like he could run forever without his legs getting tired. The reason he felt “super strong” was because he weighed so little. The Moon has one-sixth the gravity of Earth, making his total body and equipment weight of about 136 kilograms (300 pounds) on Earth only 23 kilograms (50 pounds) on the Moon.

Although carrying weight required little effort, the spacesuits were stiff and hard to move at the knee and hip joints. Astronauts learned to move mostly by ankle motion, which Bean says “feels and looks as if you are dancing on tiptoe.”

Alan Bean: Artist/Astronaut
This video excerpt from the documentary Alan Bean: Artist/Astronaut. features Alan Bean in his workshop describing his artistic process and reasons for leaving NASA to make his Apollo-inspired artwork.
Video courtesy of Jeffrey Roth Productions.
Edited from the original film Alan Bean: Artist/Astronaut.