Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The art of Bob McCall

A number of amazingly talented people contributed to EPCOT Center. One of them was renowned artist Robert McCall. Mr. McCall's incredible career has included work for Life magazine, NASA, and several science fiction films, including 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. He is also known for his fantastically detailed paintings of futuristic settings.

Most of McCall's EPCOT work could be seen in Horizons (which gives us one more reason to mourn its passing, I suppose). In the queue area visitors could see his paintings of three of the futuristic environments depicted in the ride: Nova Cite, Brava Centuari, and Sea Castle
copyright Disney

copyright Disney

copyright Disney

On the way out of the pavilion, Horizons visitors walked by this mural, entitled "The Prologue and the Promise":
copyright Disney

After my first trip to EPCOT in 1984, I was so enthralled with the place that my grandfather bought me the large hardcover book Walt Disney's EPCOT Center: Creating The New World of Tomorrow. Each of McCall's gorgeous Horizons queue area paintings was given its own fold-out page. I spent hours poring over them, imagining myself in that future world. Little did I realize at the time that those paintings weren't the only ones McCall did on the subject. The book Vision of the Future: The Art of Robert McCall contains many more spectacular paintings of a future where mankind has figured out how to control gravity itself, giving rise to sparkling cities that float through the sky like clouds. Additionally, a large gallery of Mr. McCall's work can be found on his website, Unfortunately, the pictures are on the smallish side. The site also offers a limited collection of prints, but the prices are a bit exorbitant for my taste. If there were a wider variety of prints offered and more affordable prices, you can bet my walls would be covered with them.

The futuristic vistas that Robert McCall painted were more than just pretty pictures. There was a logic to the designs, a sense that things had been thought through. Whereas Horizons allowed us to peep through a window on the future, McCall's paintings show us the future on a grand scale. They're a feast, not just for the eyes, but for the mind as well.


  1. Seeing those photos just makes me even more depressed at what "might have been" if 'Eisner et all' hadn't derailed EPCOT Center.

    Ask yourself - Is that same imagination at 'Epcot' today? No. Is that same inspiration at 'Epcot' today? No.

    I'm saddened but not really surprised that Lassiter has done precious little to try & turn 'Epcot' back into 'EPCOT Center' again. After all... Just how difficult is it to get a character like Dreamfinder back? That's just a character... In a costume...

    Why can't they update World Showcase, which everyone keeps citing needs a huge maintenance update?

    Less Finding Nemo / Kim Possible BS, more authentic EPCOT Center, please! Thank you!

  2. Great post!

    Thanks for sharing them. The EPCOT book is one of my favorites!

  3. I love these pieces. I'd like to see a section of an art museum, or maybe a traveling exhibit, dedicated to art of the future.

  4. It seems to be a common misconception that Robert McCall did the Spaceship Earth mural, when it was actually Claudio Mazzoli. McCall IS amazing, though, my dad has three big pieces signed by him hanging in our living room, of Apollo 13 going around the dark side of the moon, the astronauts on the lunar surface, and the space station from 2001.


Thanks for taking the time to comment!