Mark Dery on Richard Powers's science fiction pulp art

Our pal Mark Dery has a new Daily Beast column exploring the rich realm of book cover art and design, beginning with an illuminating piece on 1950s surrealist science fiction artist Richard Powers.

From the Daily Beast:


…Over the course of a career that spanned four decades and yielded 1,200 jacket illustrations for science-fiction novels, he managed to smuggle avant-gardism into what was, after all, an advertising platform. And he did so with astonishing verve and inventiveness, giving just about every trick in the art-historical grab bag a whirl: palette-knife impasto work reminiscent of De Kooning, paint dripped and spattered a la Pollock, collage, montage, wet paint folded onto itself to produce Rorschach-type blots. Hiding his experimentalism in plain sight, he explored the styles he loved (Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism) alongside realistic portraiture that revealed a breezy mastery of the commercial-art idiom, within compositions whose jazzy swing owed much to midcentury graphic design.

"Richard Powers's Pulp Surrealism"