Ralph McQuarrie, the conceptual artist behind the Star Wars films, as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Battlestar Galactica, and several other famous projects, has passed away over the weekend at the age of 82.
It is well-documented that McQuarrie's concept art was the primary force behind much of the visual aesthetics for the films in the original Star Wars trilogy, which have become so indelible in popular culture worldwide.
Check out some of McQuarrie's seminal artwork below and read George Lucas' tribute.
"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."
From the masked, dark, brooding, presence of Darth Vader, to the golden-plated anthropomorphic automaton, C-3PO, to even the lowliest accuracy-challenged Stormtrooper (which McQuarrie initially depicted wielding lightsabers and shields,) they all came about through his vision; one which George Lucas and Steven Spielberg often relied upon heavily.
RIP, Ralph McQuarrie, a true visionary.