Monday, 5 March 2012


Space battle! A Cylon fighter attacks a Human Colonial Viper ship in one of artist Ralph McQuarrie's exciting conceptual works for the classic 1978 BATTLESTAR GALACTICA TV series. Image: UNIVERSAL.

The list of true artistic visionaries in the world of film and TV sadly got that little bit shorter this weekend with the sad news of the passing of acclaimed artist/illustrator Ralph McQuarrie at the age of 82.

Ralph McQuarrie (left) confers with STAR WARS creator Ralph McQuarrie. Image: LUCASFILM.
Ralph at his finest: working on the original and classic STAR WARS Trilogy. Image: LUCASFILM.
One of McQuarrie's most recognisable conceptual art pieces for STAR WARS, as the deathly Darth Vader tales on Deak Starkiller in a lightsaber duel. Image: LUCASFILM.
McQuarrie's beautiful early rendering of the droids Artoo Detoo and See-Threepio in the Tatooine desert wilds. Image: LUCASFILM.
The inspired creation of 900 year old Jedi Master Yoda, appearing in the STAR WARS sequel THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK,  is charmingly rendered by McQuarrie. Image: LUCASFILM.

Once a commercial artist for the BOEING corporation, then going on to win deserved acclaim and plaudits for his stunning panorama work for CBS TV during their live coverage of the ground-breaking NASA Apollo space mission to the moon, McQuarrie's future career as an artist/illustrator on numerous genre books and film posters quickly went stratospheric when he became a world known name for his beautiful and evocative universe creating work on film-maker George Lucas magnum space opus STAR WARS in 1975, providing the key conceptual artworks of environments, characters, action scenes and space battles from Lucas's imagination, vitally helping the writer/director visualise his ground-breaking ideas in order to sell the film to nervous 20th CENTURY FOX executives then wary of science fiction within a gloomy, financially unstable period of American motion picture making. Seeing McQuarrie's thirteen incredible paintings, the suits eventually said yes and film and pop culture history was made, as STAR WARS became one of the biggest sensations in film and space fantasy ever, of which the artist, recognised as one of the major factors for the film ultimate and long-term success, would soon contribute future ideas and concepts artistically for the saga's next two sequels: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in 1980 and RETURN OF THE JEDI in 1983.

McQuarrie would bring in a new-look U.S.S. Enterprise for the eventually aborted 1976 movie project Planet of the Titans. Image: PARAMOUNT.
Another angle showing McQuarrie's intriguing re-design of the Enterprise.  Image: PARAMOUNT.
The mighty BATTLESTAR GALACTICA leads its rag-tag fugitive fleet in the search for Earth, in this evocative image from McQuarrie. Image: UNIVERSAL.

In between providing starry worlds, mighty machines, and weird but wonderful creatures for LUCASFILM with their revolutionary gigs, the in-demand McQuarrie would also be a visualist on numerous other popular sci-fi series in film and TV, including re-designing the classic U.S.S. Enterprise in Gene Roddenberry's original, to be made in the UK, plans for the 1976 feature-length movie resurrection of the classic STAR TREK franchise with Planet of the Titans (though, sadly, this storyline and project was eventually canned and a new totally different film came into being by 1979), helping to design Steven Spielberg's incredible extra-terrestrial Mothership in 1977's other sci-fi success: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, work on the early episodes of Glen A. Larson's popular and hugely enjoyable "STAR WARS rip-off" BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, and some other early inspirations with Larson and co-producer Leslie Stevens on the eventual late seventies BUCK ROGERS TV series starring Gil Gerard, notably providing concepts for what would become our heroes fantastic mode of space transport and intergalactic action, the sleek starfighter. More on Ralph's versatile work can be found here: Ralph McQuarrie - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A generous, funny, kind hearted man with a brilliant imagination and artistic flair, brimming with creative inspiration and buckets of natural talent, McQuarrie's immense body of work would be deservedly iconized, admired and held up as the standard by which all future science fiction film and TV worlds and artwork would be judged by his dedicated fans and industry friends around the globe. He will be much missed, but his work will resonate and be enjoyed by generations to come...

Celebrating the best in life and art: Ralph McQuarrie. June 13th, 1929 - March 3rd, 2012. R.I.P.

KOOL TV sends its condolences to Ralph's wife, Joan, his friends and fans worldwide, and his agents, friends and artistic preservers at DREAMS AND VISIONS PRESS, in this time of mourning.

For more on Ralph McQuarrie and his incredible STAR WARS work, check out the STAR WARS AFICIONADO blog tribute here: STAR WARS AFICIONADO MAGAZINE: GOODBYE, RALPH McQUARRIE...

For more on Ralph's incredible life and career, head over to his official website: Home - News
See Ralph's terrific work on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 1978 here: Ralph McQuarrie Concept Paintings | Battlestar Galactica

With thanks to Chris Baker for the screen grab image of Ralph.

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