First Look at Heinlein Bust

Robert A. Heinlein was one of four additions to the Hall of Famous Missourians in 2013. Artist E. Spencer Schubert has just finished sculpting the “artist’s proof” of the commemorative bust that will be installed in the state capitol.

Missouri’s rule is that the bust must be paid for by the public (not the state), and The Heinlein Society completed fundraising in June 2015 with the help of a generous donation by Jeb Kinnison.

Keith Kato, President of The Heinlein Society, sent this progress report about the sculpture, plans for displaying it at next year’s Worldcon, and the installation ceremony:

The clay sculpture bust of the Robert A. Heinlein Exhibit for the Missouri House of Representatives “Hall of Famous Missourians” was recently completed.  Multiple photos of Robert Heinlein circa 1971 (age 64), from various angles, were selected by The Heinlein Society’s Board of Directors and sent to the sculptor, E. Spencer Schubert, a long-time Heinlein reader and fan.

Spencer has provided the accompanying photographs of the final product, and the time-lapse movie of the sculpting process.

Three iterations of the bust were made to accommodate critiques and comments during the process.  From the movie it can be seen that Mr. Heinlein’s head is approximately 175% normal size when compared with Spencer’s head.  If you look closely, a small “I know something” smile and twinkling eyes have been incorporated into the face.

The next step in the process will creation of a mold and casting an “artist’s proof” of high density plaster to allow a final visual inspection of the casted bust, after which the bronze bust will be made.

It is the Society’s intent to unveil the Heinlein Hall of Famous Missourians Exhibit at the 2016 World Science Fiction Convention in Kansas City, Missouri (MidAmeriCon II) before taking it to the state capitol in Jefferson City for a post-Worldcon Induction Ceremony.

Spencer says the artist’s proof and copies of the bronze casting will be available for purchase if there are interested parties, but they cannot be delivered until after the Induction Ceremony.


[Thanks to Keith Kato for the story.]

17 thoughts on “First Look at Heinlein Bust

  1. I can’t help but think Heinlein might have preferred an image from his younger days.

  2. Look, a bust of an SF author that’s not creepy. It CAN be done!

    There are awards named after RAH — this would actually make a good one. Maybe the Heinlein Society can use it for whatever their equivalent of Grand Master is.

  3. If we’re going to suggest that it be named after an an actual writer, could it please not be a while male writer, deceased or otherwise? Pretty please?

  4. On matters of art criticism I am almost incapable of resisting, given my profession.

  5. Um… That one up top does look like a person, which is nice, but it doesn’t seem to resemble the photo!

  6. Mike’s photo from 1976 is several years later than we (THS) were aiming. By then he’d already had the health crisis and the carotid problem was developing (which wouldn’t be fixed by surgery until a few years later). Said simply, he was starting to fade away a bit there. We have access to the Heinlein archives photo cache, but unfortunately while we could use them for the sculptor, don’t really have permission to post here in wide open public the photos we sent him. But the bust is a good representation.

    However. . . I can point at ones that are in public already. In fact, the original of this one is *one* of the ones we sent the sculptor:

    Another photo that appears to be from the same “sitting” based on clothing and such, but him smiling, is the source for the smile.

  7. There’s a certain creepiness to the clay likeness. I would have gone for a younger Heinlein; more dynamic.

  8. With respect, Cat, I see no reason why one of the key figures in the development of modern science fiction – which is surely what such an award would be honouring – should be excluded merely because they happen to be a white male.

  9. Steve Green, if you’re talking about the World Fantasy Award, Heinlein wrote some fantasy, but he was not primarily a fantasy writer.

    Honestly, I think putting any author’s likeness (even Tolkein’s) is limiting. I’d rather a dragon or other iconic symbol of the fantastic.

  10. Robert Whitaker Sirignano, someone here on File770 suggested the Lamasu. Honestly, I think any strong fantasy image would be fine.

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