Illustrious 'Star Wars' Artist Ralph McQuarrie Dies at 82

March 5, 2012


Ralph McQuarrie, the artist whose concept work largely defined the iconic look of the enjoyable Star Wars trilogy, passed away on Saturday due to complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 82.

As a posthumous statement on McQuarrie's website now reads:

His influence on design will be felt forever. There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say...

"that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted."

Though McQuarrie will likely best be remembered for his work with George Lucas--with whom he helped create the legendary, unforgettable appearance of Darth Vader, R2-D2, C-3PO, Storm Troopers, and more--he also brought his talent at striking design to Battlestar Galactica, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Close Encounters, Total Recell, and more. In 1986, his visual effects work on Cocoon earned him an Academy Award against competition from Return to Oz and Steve Guttenberg's overbearing presence.

In a public statement, George Lucas fondly remembered the legendary designer:

"I am deeply saddened by the passing of such a visionary artist and such a humble man. Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars. His genial contribution, in the form of unequaled production paintings, propelled and inspired all of the cast and crew of the original Star Wars trilogy. When words could not convey my ideas, I could always point to one of Ralph's fabulous illustrations and say, 'Do it like this.'

"Beyond the movies, his artwork has inspired at least two generations of younger artists--all of whom learned through Ralph that movies are designed. Like me, they were thrilled by his keen eye and creative imagination, which always brought concepts to their most ideal plateau. In many ways, he was a generous father to a conceptual art revolution that was born of his artwork, and which seized the imaginations of thousands and propelled them into the film industry. In that way, we will all be benefiting from his oeuvre for generations to come. Beyond that, I will always remember him as a kind and patient, and wonderfully talented, friend and collaborator."

Here is McQuarrie's really awesome painting of the Millennium Falcon:


Have a look at a full slideshow of his design masterworks at The true testament to their power is how hard it is not to add sound effects as you flip through.

Ralph McQuarrie, artist who drew Darth Vader, C-3PO, dies at 82 [WashingtonPost]

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