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

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fold, Spindle, and Mutilate...

Powers was notorious for re-purposing his art.  He had no attachment to much of his commercial art and would regularly pull older art and slice it up for "raw materials" to be used in other images, much to the horror of  his reps (like Jane Frank).  Powers would merrily destroy the old to create the new, despite pleadings to cease and desist!

There have been many times I have marveled at a particular cover he did, only to discover he had later pillaged it to create another cover... it was gone forever.  Although it is easy to mourn the many classic covers that Powers destroyed in his creative process, it is a fascinating glimpse at the man and his art (and it is a fun game to find and associate his cannibalized works).

Get Out of My Sky  
Here Powers cut elements from the back of the wrap-around cover of Get Out of My Sky to include in Tiger by The Tail.  Does the front cover portion still exist?  Possibly, as we will see in the next example.

The Undying Fire
Powers was evidently bothered by the constraints of compositions inherent in wrap-around covers (or covers in general that must allow room for text).  He felt some of his commercial works had merit but needed cropping, so he might keep the front cover portion (for example) and cut off the back cover.  In the case of The Undying Fire, Powers kept the front cover portion (which exist today), but cannibalized the rear cover portion.

Lambda 1
Unfortunately THREE classic covers gave there lives for Lambda 1.
Sad but true : (
From Richard Powers Art Blog
Maze of Death
Here Powers actually jumps genres, taking one his mystery covers and turning it into a SF cover.  This is one instance where I actually don't mind.  However, I have a bad feeling a few other works were mutilated for the other elements we see in Maze of Death.

Search the Sky

Star Shine
Too bad, I liked Star Shine...

SF Omnibus
Here SF Omnibus got scattered over several pieces.  I know I have seen the other abstract figurative element on top appear on another cover as well.

From Richard Powers Art Blog


  1. Is there any truth to the story in Hancer 3rd edition that some of his paintings were destroyed in a flood?

    1. I am not familiar with the Hancer reference or a flood, but Powers DID have a studio fire around 1967 that destroyed several paintings. I've always been curious what was lost.