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

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mutating Art

I have been collecting Richard's art for over a decade now and I am always surprised to find how much he continued to change, manipulate, or downright destroy his art (cut to pieces for mosaics in other work) after it was originally created.  Here are some examples that show how he would often alter his work for obvious aesthetic reasons (as opposed to restoration of damaged pieces), sometimes years after the original painting was done.

Tales of Love and Horror
Here Powers did some slight tweaks on the original art, most notably removing the "centipede bra", which perhaps was included originally for censorship reasons.

From Richard Powers Art Blog

Sometimes Never/Symphonie Fantastique
Here is an example of how Powers would re-purpose art by altering it to fit a different theme.  He eliminated some obvious SF elements from the book cover, shifting the painting into a more purely "fantastique" tone.

From Richard Powers Art Blog
Tau Zero
In this example, Powers completely painted over the original painting (seen on the book cover), using it as a guide.  At first glance the paintings may appear identical, but flipping back and forth between them reveals they are actually totally different.  This "redux" was done 3 years after the original painting (which was done in '76).  The "improved" version includes a new signature dated '79.  The original signature is still barely visible through the new paint.

From Richard Powers Art Blog
Star Science Fiction
Powers evidently found value in much of his commercial art beyond their intended purposes as book covers.  Indeed, they frequently where very close to his purely abstract fine art.  Here he cropped the art (which he often did to improve composition away from the typical "book cover" format).  He then painted over the piece to simplify and "knock back" certain elements and reduce contrast and saturation. 

From Richard Powers Art Blog

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