[artinfo] The Only Art on the Moon

Janos Sugar sj at c3.hu
Fri Aug 11 11:19:00 CEST 2006

Fallen Astronaut is an 8.5cm  aluminum sculpture of an astronaut in a 
spacesuit. It is the only piece of art on the Moon.
It was created by Belgian artist Paul Van Hoeydonck, who met 
astronaut David Scott at a dinner party. Van Hoeydonck was asked to 
create a small statuette to personally commemorate those astronauts 
and cosmonauts having lost their lives in the furtherance of space 
exploration. Van Hoeydonck was given a set of design restrictions: in 
addition to the physical requirements that the sculpture be both 
lightweight and sturdy, and that it be capable of withstanding the 
temperature extremes of the Moon, the statuette could not be 
identifiably male or female, nor of any identifiable ethnic group. 
Furthermore, in accordance with Scott's wish to avoid the 
commercialization of space, Van Hoeydonck's name would not be made 
In 1971, Fallen Astronaut was placed on the Moon by the crew of 
Apollo 15, along with a plaque bearing the names of fourteen American 
astronauts and Russian cosmonauts who died during spaceflights or 
training exercises.
After the crew mentioned the statuette during their post-flight press 
conference, the National Air and Space Museum requested that a 
replica be made for public display. The crew agreed, under the 
condition that it was to be displayed "with good taste and without 
publicity"; in April of 1972, Van Hoeydonck presented the Museum with 
a replica of Fallen Astronaut, which is now on display with a replica 
of the plaque.
In May of 1972, Scott learned that Van Hoeydonck planned to make more 
replicas and sell them. Feeling that this would be a violation of the 
spirit of their agreement, Scott tried to persuade Van Hoeydonck to 
refrain, but was unsuccessful; 950 signed replicas went on sale for 
$750 apiece at the Waddell Gallery of New York.  

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