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Pozzatti, Rudy Apollo, 1970


Rudy Pozzatti is highly regarded as one of America’s premier printmakers and has been recognized for the significance of his contributions to the field. Born in Telluride, Colorado, Pozzatti received his master’s degree from the University of Colorado. A Fulbright Scholarship enabled him to study at the Art Institute of Florence in 1952 and 1953. He taught painting, graphic arts, and design at the University of Nebraska from 1954 to 1956 and thereafter joined the faculty of Indiana University. Soon after his arrival at IU, he began the printmaking program there, developing it into one of the finest in the country. He retired in 1991 and continues to work as a printmaker and painter. His work is included in such major museum collections as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

  • Apollo, 1970
  • 35″ x 23″
  • The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette
  • Keyword: prints, lithographs, screen print on paper
  • Subjects: people, men, astronauts, spacecrafts, rockets, mythology, biplanes, diagrams, planets, aeronautics

NASA’s Apollo Program, which ran from 1963 to 1972, included crewed and uncrewed flights. Unfortunately, the first crewed mission, Apollo 1, experienced a tragic fire that killed astronaut Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, a Purdue graduate. Subsequent missions, however, safely and successfully flew 45 astronauts into space, with 12 men, including Neil Armstrong, walking on the moon.

Pozzatti says that “the seeds for [his lithograph] Apollo were sown nearly 10 years before actually doing the work,” when he and fellow artist Jimmy Ernst were visiting the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on a cultural exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Pozzatti was in Moscow when Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit earth, received his medals from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. As he recalled, he thereafter followed the American space program with great interest.

Apollo is an 11-color etching printed in an edition of 50 impressions. There are many images within the print, including the figures of Grissom, Chaffee, and White, who lost their lives in the Apollo 1 fire, and the figures of John Glenn and Alan Shepard. There are also references to early attempts at flight, including the figure of Icarus from Greek mythology, who flew so close to the sun that its heat melted his wings made of feathers and wax and caused him to fall into the sea. There is also an image of the Wright brothers’ biplane, as well as spacecrafts and diagrams of rocket engines.

Some Points To Consider

  • Help students compare the flights of Icarus and the Wright Brothers to those of Grissom, Chaffee, White, Glenn, and Shepard of the Apollo space programs. (Art 4.3.2)
  • Ask students if they think Pozzatti’s trip to the USSR during the first human orbit of Earth might have affected the meaning of Apollo. Do they think his trip inspired his representation of space? Why or why not? Do they think it is important for an artist to paint from experience? Why or why not? (Art 4.5.2)