About the Richard Powers Art blog...

I have been a fan of the art of Richard Powers before I ever knew the man's name. Growing up reading SF as a child, I marveled at the abstract surreal images from many of the paperback covers from the 50's and 60's. But it was not until many years later in 2000 that I encountered The Art of Richard Powers by Jane Frank and discovered the name behind the art I had loved -- Richard Powers.

Powers led a double life. He was not only one of the most prolific commercial artists of his day, but he was also a prolific fine artist who maintained an annual solo show at the Rehn Gallery in NY (among others) for three decades. It is interesting to note that there was often very little difference between his fine art abstract paintings and his commercial art book covers -- quite a feat!

He worked in many styles and media, and experimented endlessly. Although he could easily paint "realism", he favored (and was more challenged by) abstraction. For me personally, his art "scratches many itches". I love abstract surrealism, and I love SF. Powers art brought these two together in a brilliant way. Additionally, there is a wonderful sense of nostalgia to many of his images, invoking the art styles of their times. But above all, Powers work simply captivates me!

My goal for this blog is to provide a hub for sharing information about Richard Powers and his art, as well as interesting observations about his process. I hope you enjoy.

John A Davis

Our Lady of Darkness

Our Lady of Darkness

Friday, December 22, 2017


Powers not only had a knack for painting, but he also had a way with words.  Boy, did he have a WAY with words!  I recently received a copy of his Menschifesto: The Laz/Org Gestalt written in 1970.  Powers has a lot of fun poking fun at the art world (specifically Warhol and his FACTORY which he loathed) as well as himself. 

Also contained are some abstracts from his time in Jamaica (where this manifesto was printed).  I love Miss Red Stripe!

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Tomorrow's Gift

This 1958 Ballantine cover by Powers is one of my favorites in our collection.  It is also a favorite of Scott Robinson who paid a visit to our home recently.  Scott is a huge Powers addict (like myself) and we had a great afternoon talking art and music.

When Scott saw Tomorrow's Gift he had a self-proclaimed "religious experience", having imprinted on this book cover as a kid.  It was his favorite.  He pointed out Powers had altered the abstract seated nude in the foreground after the cover was printed.  I had never noticed before!

Another example of Powers constantly returning to pieces and "improving" things : )


Saturday, February 11, 2017

That's a Wrap!

Prelude to Space by Arthur C Clarke
Ballantine, 1954
Powers was occasionally called upon to provide wraparound cover illustrations for specific titles.  I thought it would be interesting to "unfold" some of those covers to better appreciate what the original full painting looked like.  It is not only interesting to see the original full artwork, but also how Powers handled the layout and planning of text.  In fact, Powers essentially acted as Art Director for those early Ballantine covers, coming up with some really cool layouts and title treatments.

These images are all taken from my paperback collection and do not represent all of his wraparound covers.  Also, the crops were often different for the hardback versions (usually a larger cropping).  I photographed the front, back, and spine separately and then stitched them together.  I did some minor "clean up" on these covers to provide a more pleasing view.

I should also mention that many of these wraparound paintings do not exist anymore in their original state.  Powers himself cut many of these in half -- saving/selling a crop of the front cover, while discarding and/or cutting up the back cover elements for his collages.

Follow this link to see the Wraparound Gallery!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Two Wonders

Here is an interesting thing I noticed... Powers created TWO versions of the same painting for two separate editions of Wonder Stories.  I never realized there were actually two different versions until I saw these issues side by side.

There is a 1957 edition (black text on gold banner at top), and a 1963 version (pink on purple text/banner).  Although the same composition, these are obviously two different paintings.  Why?  Perhaps Powers could not locate the original art for the reprint 6 years later OR (most likely) he decided he could do a "better" job and decided to repaint it with improvements.  In any case, these are both excellent in my opinion!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Richard Powers Art Exhibition

A fantastic exhibition celebrating the art of Richard Powers was held during the 2015 World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, NY on November 5-8.  The exhibition displayed around 90 original pieces in Powers SF/F style -- the largest public display ever.  

Rick Lieder organized the event, which included a panel discussion led by Vincent di Fate and David Hartwell.  It was a rare and wonderful opportunity to see the works of Richard Powers in person.

Photos from the event can be seen here...
Richard Powers 2015 WFC Exhibition

Monday, May 25, 2015

Deathstar Immortal

Here is another example I came across where Powers went back to a previous painting and did a "paint over", changing the contrast and adding elements (abstract figures and flying gizmos), etc.

The original painting was done for the novel "Deathstar Voyage" by Ian Wallace (Book Club 1969).  Powers later altered this painting to create the cover for "This Immortal" by Roger Zelazny (Ace 1988).

Personally, I love the redo!  I have noticed a trend to his "paint-overs" whereby he routinely reduces the contrast of graphic elements, adding depth cues, and pushing the piece away from graphic illustration towards a more "fine art" approach.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Another One Bites the Dust...

I found another example of a Powers
cover that no longer exists...

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Powers was notorious for cutting up older paintings to create new ones.  Having looked at many examples, I begin to notice a pattern -- if a cover worked well on its own as a "painting" he would apparently keep it intact and try to sell it.  But if an illustration was too obviously composed as a cover illustration (i.e. all the interest is in the bottom third, obvious graphic elements to support text, etc.), it became fodder for future collage pieces.

Thus, poor "Beyond Infinity" got the axe (literally).