Long before satellites would journey to planets and deep-space telescopes would photograph distant galaxies, there was an artist whose dazzling visions of planets and stars would capture the imagination of all who beheld them. Before that, he was an architect working on projects like the Chrysler Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. He would later become a matte painter in Hollywood working on films like Citizen Kane and Destination Moon. Who was this remarkable man? His name was Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986).
"I didn't know what other worlds looked like until I saw Bonestell's paintings of the solar system." - Famed astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan.
Chesley Bonestell’s mesmerizing depiction of "Saturn As Seen From Titan" became known as "the painting that launched a thousand careers." Told by the many people who were influenced by Chesley Bonestell or knew him personally and punctuated with rare interview footage of the artist himself, the documentary compellingly chronicles the life of a quiet, artistic visionary, whose architecture and space art continue to inspire us to reach for the stars.
"There isn’t an artist that’s painting today in the science fiction fantasy field who didn’t start with Chesley Bonestell," says legendary science fiction author Ray Bradbury in the first film ever made about the man dubbed "The Father of Space Art."
Join the National Air and Space Museum for a special screening of the award-winning documentary film Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future at the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater at 7:30 pm on Tuesday, April 2.
Following the film, the director, Douglass Stewart, and two of his co-producers, Bonestell expert Melvin Schuetz and space artist Ron Miller, will discuss how they came to make a movie about the world’s most influential space artist, Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986). Audience participation will be encouraged during a time for questions.
Tickets are $10. Purchase now.
Pictured above is Saturn as Seen From Titan by Chesley Bonestell, 1944. Photo courtesy Bonestell LLC.