Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ralph McQuarrie, 1929–2012

Via CNN-

Ralph McQuarrie, the man credited with bringing director George Lucas' vision for "Star Wars" to the big screen, has died at the age of 82.

McQuarrie's conceptual designs were the basis for some of the trilogy's iconic characters such as Darth Vader, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO.

A statement on McQuarrie's official website, posted after his death Saturday, said 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," it read.

Lucas said he was saddened by McQuarrie's passing, calling him a visionary artist and a humble man.

"Ralph McQuarrie was the first person I hired to help me envision Star Wars," Lucas said. "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.'"

McQuarrie also helped to create concept designs for the original Battlestar Galactica TV show, along with the movies "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

McQuarrie's conceptual work on the 1985 film, "Cocoon," won him the Academy Award for Visual Effects.


  1. What sad news... the '77 McQuarrie Star Wars portfolio was one of my prized possessions as a very young artist in the 70's. I studied (and copied) those images endlessly, trying to get my head around what he was doing and how he did it. More than thirty years later, I'm still trying.

    Indeed, the three paintings from that series that appeared in Starlog were my first contact at all with Star Wars, and still hold for me the defining promise of the film that I felt at the time. I knew something big and great was coming, because the paintings themselves were so evocative and wonderful and realised.

    My feelings about Star Wars may have modulated over the intervening time, but my appreciation and love for those paintings is still as strong now as it was then.

    Thank you, Ralph. You were one of the greats, and you will be greatly missed.

  2. I can count on one hand the artists that had McQuarrie's type of strong early influence on me. I was 10 when Star Wars came out and I remember being a little disappointed that Luke didn't actually battle Darth Vader in the film like he did in Ralph's dramatic painting. Nevertheless, the paintings have remained in my memory as early sparks to my artistic passion. They are one more reminder that as artists we can create something more powerful and memorable than reality. RIP Ralph.

  3. OMGosh,… an era has just ended, a creative & talented legend has just merged with all those artistic geniuses who has gone before.

    I am so saddened by the news of Ralph’s passing.

    My career started with a generous recommendation from Ralph over thirty years ago and I will forever be grateful for that and for sharing a few (all too few) moments with him on occasion.

    Rest well, my friend,