Space now “too awesome” for space-art realists
Snip from an L.A. Times article about new challenges faced by artists whose chosen theme is space. What do representational artists do when science-reality becomes more exotic than science-fiction? Some respond by making art that is less representational:
Even space artists, who have spent their careers imagining the universe, reel at the photos of boulders on Saturn’s moon Titan or star clusters 270 million light-years from Earth. Reality, [astronomical artist Don] Dixon said with a sigh, has gotten too awesome. “NASA has overtaken us.”
Just as the development of photographic cameras in the 19th century set fine artists on the road to abstraction, new astronomical technologies are shaking the world of space art, spurring space artists to seek out new subjects and experiment with new styles.
For decades, the field was dominated by the “rock and ball” school, named after the traditional space-art approach of meticulously drawing every detail science can glean about a place â€” the shape of craters, the angle of light, the hue of the sky, the position of stars. Now a new school is rising, synthesizing the awesomeness of space with modern art genres. Some have dubbed the school “cosmic expressionism” or simply the “swirly” school, after the swirling sky in Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”