It’s no secret that we like art here. For our readers entertainment, Classically Educated has visited museums, discussed modernist movements and generally illustrated our posts with art that strikes our fancy.
It’s also no secret that we believe space is where humanity’s eyes should be focused, and that any argument for “fixing Earth first” can only seriously be expressed by people who combine shortsightedness with an appalling lack of imagination. Nothing in the world denotes a person with limited intellectual faculties than someone who believes that money should be removed from space exploration because there are poor people right here who need our help.
So, a combination of two things we feel passionate about should be an incredible journey, right?
Well, in the case of The Art of Space by Ron Miller, I have to admit to mixed feelings, although this is more due to my own prejudice than any failing of the book.
The problem is twofold. In the first place, I was brought up on book covers and illustrated space books as a child and, to a lesser degree, the covers of the pulps. This was the kind of art I was expecting to find in page after page of this book.
Secondly, I like to gaze at space art as an escape, not necessarily to study technique or see what fine artists were doing in the genre. This book is much more a history of the evolution of the different types of space painting (painting of planets, space vehicles, etc.) than a gallery of images intended to create a sense of wonder.
Does it have wonderful images in it? Yes. Covers as well, of course. But this is a book perhaps left to the person who studies art for art’s sake who, for some reason is looking at space as a subject. As an art aficionado, I clearly have a huge blind spot when it comes to what I want from space art.
I can’t seem to leave my populist inclinations aside in this particular genre (so much for my supposedly unassailable elitism) and seem to prefer the garish fascination of pulp to the much more refined visions in this book.
Oh, well. Nobody’s perfect. If you can get past that, this is a really good book.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer whose novel Incursion has the most garish cover of any of his books. Ironically, he’d asked for something more subdued and was overruled by his publisher.