Today we are celebrating the International Day of Human Space Flight.
On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin, Russian Soviet pilot and cosmonaut, became the first human to travel into the outer space. He circled the Earth for 108 minutes aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft.
Four years later, on 18 March 1965, another Russian cosmonaut Alexey Leonov became the first man to exit into the outer space and made a spacewalk for 12 minutes and 9 seconds. Leonov dreamed to be an artist but accidentally he became a cosmonaut. Below you can see a short documentary with English subtitles about Leonov, his art and his spacewalk.
After the spacewalk Leonov told:
“It was so quiet I could even hear my heart beat. I was surrounded by stars and was floating without much control”.
In 1975 he became a commander of the Soviet crew in the first space mission with the USA Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). Leonov took colored pencils and paper into space, where he sketched the Earth and drew portraits of the Apollo astronauts.
The cosmonaut stated:
“Space exploration and work in space must serve the people of the whole world. I’ve been in space, I’ve seen it and feel obligated to share my vision of space with people by means of art I have at my disposal.”
And Alexey Leonov became the first painter in the Universe and the most “experienced” space artist.
His paintings were sold in the auctions including Sotheby’s, and they can be found in the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. Some of this artworks were painted in collaboration with another space artist Andrei Sokolov.