Exhibit / December 1, 2016
Object Name: Ralph McQuarrie illustrations for Robot Visions by Isaac Asimov
Maker and Year: Ralph McQuarrie/Roc Books, 1989/1990
Object Type: Science fiction illustrations
Description: (Richard McKenna)
In 1989 veteran illustrator and concept designer Ralph McQuarrie was commissioned to produce a series of illustrations for Robot Visions, a collection of essays and short stories by Isaac Asimov and a companion volume to Asimov’s 1986 short story collection Robot Dreams. A farm boy born in 1929 and raised in Montana, McQuarrie’s life traversed much of the 20th century, taking him from battle in the Korean War to technical illustrator for Boeing and finally to conceptual artist for the cinema. Although his reputation is dominated by his work on Star Wars (1977), the full range of images he created during the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s—equal parts credible technical renderings and visionary dreamscapes—dominated and defined the collective imagination of a generation. The work he did for Robot Visions—produced when McQuarrie was entering his sixth decade—shows that his eye had in no way dulled and, released in a moment of vast change, offers a touching elegy to an age whose optimism regarding the future would soon be eroded by the sociological, political, and economic realities of the 21st century.