This striking painting by Alan Bean — the only artist to have ever walked on the moon — depicts Apollo 15 LMP and fellow moonwalker Jim Irwin in soft blue and purple hues with the bright lunar landscape reflected in his helmet. Executed in his characteristically sculptural style, this painting incorporates all of the most important technical characteristics of Bean's work (see the preceding lot for an in-depth discussion of Bean's technical process).
Glancing light reveals that the modeling medium has been texturized with a replica of the soles of his lunar boots, while close inspection of the chest of the spacesuit reveals a small FLOWN emblem fragment with traces of moondust embedded within the modeling medium and acrylic. By incorporating particles from the Apollo 12 spaceship, and moon dust-stained mission patches into his artwork, Bean sought to create a tangible connection between his audience and his extraterrestrial subject matter.
Bean and Irwin had a close working relationship and friendship. In his book Bean speaks poignantly about his relationship with Irwin, who was the first (and youngest) moonwalker to die at the age of 61: "We used to see each other at astronaut reunions or accidentally in airports from time to time, and when we parted company, he would put his arm around me and say, "Well, I hope I see you again soon, brother." It was a surprise the first time as that isn't the way one astronaut talks to another and I didn't know what to say. After this happened a few times, I wanted to reply because I felt very close to him but I just couldn't make myself say those words. Since I left the space program and became an artist, I think differently about myself and life. I miss Jim a lot and I understand how I miss him and respect him as the brother I never had." (Bean, p. 152)
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