Ralph McQuarrie passed away this weekend away on Saturday March 3rd at the age of 82, this is very sad news for me because his conceptual art inspired me in so many ways; even while I was at Art College a limited edition print adorned the wall at my desk. It think the beauty of Ralph’s early work was the fact it was from an era when conceptual paintings and sketches were so fundamental in the pre-visualising of movies, his work moulded the early development of Star Wars in so many ways, unlike today when hundreds of soulless digital paintings and 3D animatics help shape a films early development.
It was McQuarrie genius that partly made Star Wars what it looks like. Born in 1923, he began working as an illustrator for Boeing and for my other love…@NASA. Later George Lucas asked him to work on his fledgling Star Wars project. McQuarrie then singled handily designed Chewbacca and Vader, and drew countless pictures that would finally create the visual universe of Star Wars, from the costumes, spaceships, worlds and characters… One thing is for sure, without this brilliant and inspirational illustrator Star Wars would have not been what it is today. And more importantly, maybe Star Wars would have not existed at all, because this is mainly thanks to his concepts and drawings that Lucas succeeded into involving Fox into the project… Ralph McQuarrie continued his conceptual work on Empire and later Jedi, but his work on Jedi was more of a ‘after the fact’ kind of roll, painting the already completed scenes for use in marketing. He also worked on several other classic films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T.
We may have lost an incredibly talented and imaginative artist, but hopefully his memory will never die, but live on forever in the amazing films that he’s helped create throughout the years, some of which are my most treasured and favourite movies off all.
So long Ralph, and May The Force Be With You.
The Funeral Service for Ralph McQuarrie will be held on Sunday, March 25 2012 at 2:00 p.m. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 2300 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, California. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to Odyssey Hospice, 6140 Stoneridge Mall Rd, Pleasanton, CA 94588, or to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Sunset View Mortuary 510-525-5111
One of Ralph’s early painting for Return of the Jedi is the Entrance to Jabba’s Palace, which now seems to have been revived for the ‘New’ Star Wars Episode VII film which J. J. Abrams is directing. Leaked on-line photo’s show the resemblance to McQuarrie’s early painting to what appears to be a desert location scene … possibly on Tatooine.
A small collection of his stunning work (all ©Lucasfilm / Disney)
A tribute can also be found on www.ralphmcquarrie.com