Thursday, April 1, 2010

Science-Fantasy Surrealist Richard Powers: 1970s

Richard Powers (1921-1996) was one of the most influential sci-fi paperback artists of the post-pulp era. He was one of the first genre artists to depart from the realistic styles of the pulps and render covers in a fully surrealistic style. In the 1950s Powers' Tanguy-inspired covers began to grace the covers of emerging stars like Arthur C. Clarke, Frederik Pohl, and Robert Heinlein. This was at a time when publishers like Berkley and Ballantine were trying to market sophisticated sci-fi to more mature audiences. Powers' covers worked like a charm for this purpose, and his illustrations were in great demand for several decades.

Even when photorealism came into vogue in the 1980s, Powers stayed true to his surrealist vision and kept producing great work up until the end. Here are a few examples of Powers' better quality output the 1970s - including both paperback covers and personal art. It's interesting to note that the personal art of many of the greatest sci-fi illustration stylists like Powers, Paul Lehr, and John Berkey was indistinguishable from their commercial work.

CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE!

 
Wine of the Dreamers (1971)

 
Untitled (1979)

Star Bridge (1977)

 
Mountains of the Sun (1974)

 
Day of the Shield (1973)

City of Hyper-Ur (1983)