The Space Artist Who Perfectly Painted All Our Cosmic Dreams

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John Conrad Berkey (August 13, 1932 – April 29, 2008) was probably the best known and loved space artist who ever lived on this planet. You may have seen the world-famous American illustrator’s work on dozens of book covers and NASA concept art, or admired his early Star Wars and Star Trek paintings.

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Berkey was a prolific freelance artist who painted more than thousand pieces throughout his lifetime. He lived in Shorewood, Minnesota, and his bold, dreamy vision of future and space defined the the science fiction genre in the 1970s and ‘80s.

From the John Berkey website:

For someone who lived almost his entire life in a small town in Minnesota and seldom travelled far from his home, Illustrator John Berkey has shown the world a unique vision of a future in time and space way beyond our wildest dreams. He is most well known as a science fiction artist, specifically for his paintings of huge graceful spaceships of multi-faceted shapes adorned with many intricate details, soaring through outer space. [...] With his ability to see things from a different perspective, John’s illustrations depicted the full spectrum of life–past, present, and future. This quiet, contemplative genius will not soon be forgotten.

This collection focuses mostly on his amazing aerospace paintings. A few of them will be auctioned on May 16 at Heritage Auctions.

Space Probe Uranus

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Satellites U.S. (Hubble Satellite and Others, Popular Mechanics magazine story illustration)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Astronaut in Space, Art for Digital Equipment

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Up in Space

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Source: Heritage Auctions


To Fear the Light (paperback cover)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Taking Flight

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Taxi Dancer (book cover)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Water Rockets (Popular Mechanics magazine story illustration)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Star Trek: The Motion Picture (promotional poster)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Control Tower (book cover)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Jet Ships (Popular Mechanics magazine story illustration)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Star 4 Science Fiction (paperback cover)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


When Worlds Collide/The War of the Worlds (promotional poster)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Star Wars (20th Century Records, 1977, soundtrack poster)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Space Settlement (AMP Corporate commission)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Colonies in Space (book cover)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Viking Probe (Uranus)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Of Moon and Stars

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Armed Fighters

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Spaceships and Planets

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Source: Heritage Auctions


Force of Life, Power of Death (Star Wars book cover)

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Source: Heritage Auctions


One Giant Leap (Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon)

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Source: Nate D. Sanders


Space Shuttle Challenger (preliminary sketch)

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Source: johnberkey.com


Stealth Bomber (preliminary sketch)

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Source: johnberkey.com


Two Astronauts (preliminary sketch)

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Source: johnberkey.com


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DISCUSSION

By
Jägs

And one of my favorite books as a kid, and still one I treasure: National Geographic’s Our Universe.