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 John Conrad Berkey  (1932 - 2008)

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Lived/Active: Minnesota/North Dakota      Known for: spacescape, abstract figure and landscape painting

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John Conrad Berkey
An example of work by John Conrad Berkey
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following biography has been provided by James J. Krieger of J. J. Krieger & Associates, Llc., art publisher and six year personal friend of the artist.

Long established, internationally renowned science fiction, fantasy illustrator.

John Berkey began as a prodigy painter for the Brown and Bigelow calendar company in Minnesota doing representational work, but eventually became widely known for a talent to create dramatic, futuristic spacescapes. In the 1960's he declined Stanley Kubrick's invitation to relocate to England to do the film "A Space Odyssey 2001", but later accepted George Lucas' invitation to be the original illustrator for "Star Wars". Other film work included "Star Trek", "The Neptune Factor", "The Towering Inferno", "Dune", "Orca" and the "King Kong" remake.

Self taught, Berkey invented the use of acrylic pigment in extremely durable casein. In the early 1990s, he pioneered dynamic video wall art and expanded into abstract expressive figurative and photo realistic landscape styles on illustration board.

He was extremely prolific with over 3000 commissioned paintings.  He also did commissioned stamps, include depictions of Henry Kaiser, Elvis, Santa Claus, Hubert Humphrey, the California Gold Rush and others.

Berkey has been honored with the top awards of The Society Of Illustrators of New York and of Los Angeles, The Art Directors Club Of New York and of Philadelphia, the Hugo award and the Grand Master award from Spectrum.


Included in the Challenger and Plains Museum collections. Interviewed on CBS's Good Morning America. Biographical books include Painted Space, Friedlander Publishing, 1991 and The Art Of John Berkey, Tiger Press; 2003. Referenced in other books.

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