[artinfo] The Only Art on the Moon
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
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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