Invented Futures: Chesley Bonestell and Beyond

Invented Futures: Chesley Bonestell and Beyond

July 6 – October 2, 2021


As long as we’ve looked upward to the heavens, to those glimmering lights in the night sky, we’ve wanted to know more about them – wondered, intrigued, what are they about?

Chesley Bonestell, “the Father of Modern Space Art,” was instrumental in turning inquisitiveness into action, firing humankind’s desires to explore beyond our earthbound viewpoint with his dramatic visual presentations. From the 1940s through the 1980s, he helped generations of curious skywatchers envision what it would be like to be . . . out there, where no one had gone before.

Bonestell (“BONN-uh-stell”) became a pivotal force in inventing a future that propelled men and women to reach moons, planets, and stars. His work inspired astronomers, researchers, physicists, chemists, biologists, rocket scientists, engineers, test pilots and people from a myriad of other disciplines to envision and achieve that which, over recent decades, has become our planetary reality of space exploration.


His artwork will be supplemented by examples of contemporary work that his art inspired including paintings by artist and author Ron Miller, New Hampshire artist Jennifer Benn and recent Exeter graduate Ursula Wise ’21.


This exhibition, from the Collection of Jay Whipple, Class of ’51, is made possible through the generosity of the Whipple Family.

Listen to NHPR Interview

Jennifer Benn discusses her piece, Mercury XIII, which is inspired by the "Mercury 13" who were women pilots, who could have been America’s first female astronauts until the program was cut in 1962.

Go to the page titled Listen to NHPR Interview

Image Credits: Chesley Bonestell, Saturn Viewed from Rhea, 1944, Oil on board, From the collection of Jay Whipple ’51. Chesley Bonestell, Saturn Seen from Titan, Its Largest Moon 760,000 Miles Away, 1961, Oil on board, From the collection of Jay Whipple ’51. Jennifer Benn, Virtuous Order and the Adrenaline of Chaos, 2003, Oil on canvas. Chesley Bonestell, Saturn as Seen from Titan, n.d, Print, From the collection of Jay Whipple ’51. Jennifer Benn, Vostok 6: Valentina Supernova, Oil on canvas. Chesley Bonestell, Explorers Crossing a Natural Bridge on the Moon, 1961, Oil on board, From the collection of Jay Whipple ’51.


Lamont Gallery programs are supported in part by the Michael C. Rockefeller ’56 Visiting Artists Fund.