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 20, 2014

Recurring Dreams

Like many artists, Powers had favorite subjects he would return to time and again.  But whereas some artists may have favorite locations or models, Powers had favorite shapes.  He obviously enjoyed exploring certain shapes and visual ideas over and over.  It is not a case of running short of ideas (of which he had plenty).  Instead Powers created his own visual "language", and certain words bore repeating (albeit with different accents).

Powers played with many such motifs.  Here are just a few examples...

There is a tool in 3D modeling called "metaballs" that reminds me of a certain type of head motif that Powers sometimes used.  The effect achieves a different goal in each of these examples.  The meta-head of Aluminum Man gives the figure an intriguing appearance of "liquid metal" (long before Terminator 2).  The meta-head on the more realistic body in Time And Stars lends a horrifying loss of identity.  My favorite use of the meta-head is from On the Beach (bottom right) where the woman's head takes the appearance of a mushroom cloud -- brilliant!

From Richard Powers Art Blog
Minimal Man
What do you get when a meta-head finally pulls off the host body?  You get what I call the "minimal man".  This abstracted figure is disjointed and about as minimal as you can get.  Sometimes the head is connected, sometimes it just floats.  Sometimes there are 3 or 4 legs.  Why not?

From Richard Powers Art Blog
The Uprights
Another favorite shape idea is what I call the "uprights" because of their resemblance to football goal posts... complete with a "football" element (for three points)!

From Richard Powers Art Blog
Knives as Architecture
This is pretty self-explanatory, and certainly lends a bit of tension and danger to these future skylines.

From Richard Powers Art Blog
The Manta Shape
This interesting shape reminds me of a manta ray.  I find it fascinating that Powers decided to explore this shape again 16 years later (the amount of time between these two paintings).

From Richard Powers Art Blog

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