In Memory of Alexei Lenov: A Life Dedicated to Art and Scientific Progress

On October 11, 2019, the world mourned the passing of the great Russian cosmonaut Alexei Lenov, whose life exemplified the greatest expression of mankind’s aspiration to advance beyond the limits of our knowledge through science and artistic inspiration.

Making history with the first spacewalk on March 18, 1965, Lenov was scheduled to be the first Russian to land on the Moon until short sighted strategists cancelled the lunar program once America declared their mission a success. However, Lenov continued to lead the world towards his aspirations of a common brotherhood of all mankind as the leader of the Russian side of the historic Soyuz-Apollo cooperative space mission in 1975. Here, Lenov directed one of the greatest solutions to the problems of the unwinnable Cold War logic of “Mutually Assured Destruction” by re-directing the fruits of technological progress from weaponized competition to fruitful collaboration as American and Russian astronauts docked together for 2 days in orbit.

On top of his pioneering work as a scientist, and space administrator, Alexei Lenov was a renowned philosopher, writer, and artist who painted over 200 works of art depicting humanity’s exploration of space both from his own direct experience as well as from his rigorously trained imagination. He was joined on this artistic adventure by space art pioneer Andrei Sokolov who collaborated with Lenov on dozens of great paintings.

Like many astronauts, Alexei described his transformative spiritual experience of his famous space walk in the following words: “With an effort I stepped into the abyss. I felt overwhelmed. Stars were to the left and to the right. Above and below. I was surrounded by stars. Gradually I myself realized that I am part of this giant world where a human being is but a tiny grain of sand.”

Describing his understanding that mankind’s maturation to a space faring species was the cure for the infantile ills of empire and war which have plagued humanity for millennia he said: “When we, cosmonauts, astronauts, get together, we do not divide each other into “whites” and “colored ones”, Russians, Americans, and Europeans. We are all children of Earth, children of God. Without flight, it would be more difficult for us to understand this simple truth”.  

In celebration of a life which sought to remove that artificial gulf separating the worlds of “science” and “art” throughout the 20th century, we are proud to showcase here a small sample of some of the great cosmonauts paintings with the hope that you enjoy with us, the beauty and imagination that he saw when looking at creation and man’s role therein.

A Gallery of Alexei Leonov’s Paintings

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