|Born||Chesley Knight Bonestell, Jr.|
January 1, 1888
San Francisco, California USA
|Died||June 11, 1986 (aged 98)|
Carmel, California USA
|Subject||Science, science fiction, space|
|Notable awards||Klumpke-Roberts Award (1976)|
|Children||Jane Bonestell (1912–1989)|
Chesley Knight Bonestell, Jr. (January 1, 1888 – June 11, 1986) was an American painter, designer and illustrator. His paintings inspired the American space program, and they have been (and remain) influential in science fiction art and illustration. A pioneering creator of astronomical art, along with the French astronomer-artist Lucien Rudaux, Bonestell has been dubbed the "Father of Modern Space art".
Life and career
Bonestell was born in San Francisco, California. His first astronomical painting was done in 1905. After seeing Saturn through the 12-inch (300 mm) telescope at San Jose's Lick Observatory, he rushed home to paint what he had seen. The painting was destroyed in the fire that followed the 1906 earthquake. Between 1915 and 1918 he exhibited lithographs in the 4th and 7th annual exhibitions of the California Society of Etchers (now the California Society of Printmakers) in San Francisco.
Bonestell studied architecture at Columbia University in New York City. Dropping out in his third year, he worked as a renderer and designer for several of the leading architectural firms of the time, including the firm of Willis Polk, "The Man Who Rebuilt San Francisco."
Bonestell moved to England in 1920, where he rendered architectural subjects for the Illustrated London News. He returned to New York in 1926. While with William van Alen, he and Warren Straton designed the art deco façade of the Chrysler Building as well as its distinctive eagles. During this same period, he designed the Plymouth Rock Memorial, the U.S. Supreme Court Building, the New York Central Building, Manhattan office and apartment buildings and several state capitols.
Returning to the West Coast, he prepared illustrations of the chief engineer's plans for the Golden Gate Bridge for the benefit of funders. In the late 1930s he moved to Hollywood, where he worked (without screen credit) as a special effects artist, creating matte paintings for films, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), Citizen Kane (1941) and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942).
Bonestell then realized that he could combine what he had learned about camera angles, miniature modeling, and painting techniques with his lifelong interest in astronomy. The result was a series of paintings of Saturn as seen from several of its moons that was published in Life in 1944. Nothing like these had ever been seen before: they looked as though photographers had been sent into space. His painting "Saturn as Seen from Titan" is perhaps the most famous astronomical landscape ever, and is nicknamed "the painting that launched a thousand careers." It was constructed with a combination of clay models, photographic tricks and various painting techniques. (Titan has a thick haze; such a view is probably not possible in reality.)
Bonestell followed up the sensation these paintings created by publishing more paintings in many leading national magazines. These and others were eventually collected in the best-selling book The Conquest of Space (1949), produced in collaboration with author Willy Ley. Bonestell's last work in Hollywood was contributing special effects art and technical advice to the seminal science fiction films produced by George Pal, including Destination Moon, When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds and Conquest of Space, as well as Cat-Women of the Moon. Beginning with the October 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction, Bonestell painted more than 60 cover illustrations for science fiction magazines, primarily The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, in the 1950s through 1970s. He also illustrated many book covers.
When Wernher von Braun organized a space flight symposium for Collier's, he invited Bonestell to illustrate his concepts for the future of spaceflight. For the first time, spaceflight was shown to be a matter of the near future. Von Braun and Bonestell showed that it could be accomplished with the technology then existing in the mid-1950s, and that the question was that of money and will. Coming as they did at the beginning of the Cold War and just before the sobering shock of the launch of Sputnik, the 1952–54 Collier's series, "Man Will Conquer Space Soon!", was instrumental in kick-starting America's space program.
During his lifetime, Bonestell was honored internationally for the contributions he made to the birth of modern astronautics, from a bronze medal awarded by the British Interplanetary Society to a place in the International Space Hall of Fame to an asteroid named for him. The Conquest of Space won the 1951 International Fantasy Award for nonfiction, one of the first two fantasy or science fiction awards anywhere, at the British SF Convention. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted Bonestell in 2005, the first year it considered non-literary contributors.[a]
His paintings are prized by collectors and institutions such as the National Air and Space Museum and the National Collection of Fine Arts. One of his classic paintings, an ethereally beautiful image of Saturn seen from its giant moon Titan, has been called "the painting that launched a thousand careers." Wernher von Braun wrote that he had "learned to respect, nay fear, this wonderful artist's obsession with perfection. My file cabinet is filled with sketches of rocket ships I had prepared to help in his artwork—only to have them returned to me with…blistering criticism."
Books illustrated by Bonestell
- Ley, Willy (1949), The Conquest of Space (Chesley Bonestell, Illustrator)
- Across the Space Frontier (1952)
- Braun, Wernher von; Fred Lawrence Whipple; Willy Ley (1953) [1952 (Collier's Man on the Moon)]. Cornelius Ryan (ed.). Conquest of the Moon. Illustrated by Chesley Bonestell, Fred Freeman, Rolf Klep. New York: The Viking Press. Illustrations by Chesley Bonestell:
- Constructing the moonships in the space station's orbit (endpapers)
- The space station (p 11)
- Spaceships coming in for a landing on the moon (p 63)
- Landing on the moon (p 67)
- Unloading the cargo ship on the moon (pp 76–77)
- Exploration convoy crossing lunar plain (p 101)
- Take-off from the moon (p 115)
- Heuer, Kenneth (1953), The End of the World (Chesley Bonestell, Illustrator) (Reprinted and revised in 1957 as The Next Fifty Billion Years: An Astronomer's Glimpse into the Future, Viking Press)
- The World We Live In (1955)
- The Exploration of Mars (1956)
- Man and the Moon (1961)
- Rocket to the Moon (1961)
- The Solar System (1961)
- Beyond the Solar System (1964)
- Mars (1964)
- Beyond Jupiter (1972)
- The Golden Era of the Missions (1974)
- The Art of Chesley Bonestell, Ron Miller, Paper Tiger, (2001) ISBN 978-1855858848.
Films with artwork by Bonestell (abbreviated list)
- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939)
- Only Angels Have Wings (1939)
- Swiss Family Robinson (1940)
- Citizen Kane (1941)
- The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
- Destination Moon (1950)
- War of the Worlds (1953)
- Cat-Women of the Moon (1953) Unauthorized use of Bonestell art from the book, "The Conquest of Space"
- Conquest of Space (1955)
- Men into Space (TV series, 1959–60)
- Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future (Feature Length Documentary) (2018)
Bonestell appeared in the documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal (1985) (Produced and directed by Arnold Leibovit). A documentary about his life, "Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future," was produced in 2018. Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future - Home
Popular culture references
- Arthur C. Clarke, in the 1953 story Jupiter Five, referred to Bonestell's astronomical illustrations appearing in Life Magazine in 1944.
- Robert A. Heinlein made Bonestell's name into a verb first in his 1958 Juvenile Have Space Suit—Will Travel, then in his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land: "Opener: zoom in on Mars, using stock or bonestelled shots, unbroken sequence, then dissolving to miniature matched set of actual landing place of Envoy".
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Tapestry", a young Captain Picard is involved in a fight with aliens at the Bonestell Recreation Facility, a spaceport named after the artist. This incident is first mentioned in the second season episode "Samaritan Snare."
- After inducting 36 fantasy and science fiction writers and editors from 1996 to 2004, the hall of fame dropped "fantasy" and made non-literary contributors eligible. Alongside one writer, the first three were Bonestell in the "Art" category, "dynamation" animator Ray Harryhausen, and film-maker Steven Spielberg.
- Chesley Bonestell at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 8 April 2013. Select a title to see its linked publication history and general information. Select a particular edition (title) for more data at that level, such as a front cover image or linked contents.
- Chesley Bonestell (Photograph by Cedric Braun.) Archived March 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Chesley Bonestell Memorial Lecture Series, Each year, the Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy presents a lecture for the general public supported by funds from the Chesley Bonestell Memorial Lecture Endowment. – Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy
- Miller, Ron; Durant III, Frederick C. (2001). The Art of Chesley Bonestell. London House, Great Eastern Wharf, Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NQ: Collins and Brown LImited. pp. 15–20. ISBN 1-85585-905-X.CS1 maint: location (link)
- Miller, Ron; Durant III, Frederick C. (2001). The Art of Chesley Bonestell. London House, Great Eastern Wharf, Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NQ: Collins and Brown Limited. p. 23. ISBN 1 85585 905 X.CS1 maint: location (link)
- Chesley Bonestell Chronology Archived June 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, By Melvin H. Schuetz, 1999, uPublish.com Parkland Florida, ISBN 1-58112-829-0
- Saturn as Seen from Titan Archived May 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, (1944)
- Miller, Ron; Durant III, Frederick C. (2001). The Art of Chesley Bonestell. London House, Great Eastern Wharf, Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NQ: Collins and Brown Limited. p. 47. ISBN 1 85585 905 X.CS1 maint: location (link)
- OBITUARIES : Blended Astronomy and Art : Painter Chesley Bonestell, 98, Dies Archived April 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine – Los Angeles Times
- Inductee Profile: Chesley K. Bonestell USA, Inducted in 1989 Archived July 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, International Space Hall of Fame
- "Bonestell, Chesley" Archived October 16, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index of Art Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved 9 April 2013.
- "It's Official! Inductees Named for 2005 Hall of Fame Class". Archived from the original on March 26, 2005. Retrieved August 30, 2016.. Press release March 24, 2005. Science Fiction Museum (sfhomeworld.org). Archived 26 March 2005. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- "Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame" Archived May 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Mid American Science Fiction and Fantasy Conventions, Inc. Retrieved 9 April 2013. This was the official website of the hall of fame to 2004.
- Grady, Spencer (August 6, 2016). "Sun Ra Vinyl Salvos Ready For Blast Off". Jazz Wise Magazine. Archived from the original on November 10, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
- Miller, Ron and Frederick C. Durant III (1983), Worlds Beyond: The Art of Chesley Bonestell, Walsworth Pub Co ISBN 978-0-89865-195-9
- Miller, Ron and Frederick C. Durant III (2001), The Art of Chesley Bonestell (Foreword by Melvin H. Schuetz), Paper Tiger ISBN 978-1-85585-884-8
- Schuetz, Melvin H. (1999), Chesley Bonestell Space Art Chronology, Universal Publishers ISBN 978-1-58112-829-1
- Schuetz, Melvin H. (2003), Supplement to A Chesley Bonestell Space Art Chronology ISBN 978-1581128291.
- Tuck, Donald H., ed. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy Volumes 1 and 2. Chicago: Advent Publications, Inc., 1974.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Chesley Bonestell.|
- Chesley Bonestell, Bonestell LLC.
- Chesley Bonestell at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Chesley Bonestell on IMDb
- "Chesley Bonestell biography". Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.
- Chesley Bonestell, a portrait by Ansel Adams
- "Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future," DMS Productions Services, Inc.