When a launch takes place at Cape Canaveral, Fla., more than 200 cameras record every split second of the activity. Every nut, bolt, miniaturized electronic device is photographed from every angle. The artist can add very little to this in the way of factual record. But, as [Honoré] Daumier pointed out about a century ago, the camera sees everything and understands nothing. It is the emotional impact, interpretation and hidden significance of these events which lie within the scope of the artist’s vision. An artist may depict exactly what he thinks he sees, but the image has still gone through the catalyst of his imagination and has been transformed in the process.

National Gallery curator Lester Cooke who, with NASA staffer and artist James Dean, implemented a new art program for NASA in 1962.