POWERS, Richard M.


POWERS, Richard M.
(1921-)
   US illustrator. Born in Chicago, he studied in several art schools in that area before and after WWII. He began work in sf ILLUSTRATIONno later than 1950 - an early abstract RMP cover being forIsaac ASIMOV's Pebble in the Sky (1950) - for DOUBLEDAYwhere he also did mysteries and Westerns, and also with 2 1952 covers for Gal. When Ian Ballantine founded BALLANTINE BOOKS in 1952 he approached RMP to do coversfor him. Although some of his early work there was representational (some of the early Doubleday work had been abstract), RMP soon - with the cover for Arthur C. CLARKE's CHILDHOOD'S END (1953) - adopted a Surrealist style (much influenced by Yves Tanguy (1900-1955) and Joan Miro (1893-1983)) unique in sf; it became the trademark of Ballantine's 1950s sf. RMP's glowing and sometimes whimsical paintings are full of amorphous shapes, floating in space or over surreal landscapes, and have been enormously influential in sf illustration. He did a little more magazine-cover work, but most of his prolific sf cover illustration - he worked in other fields as well, including children's books - was for books, for Ballantine, Pocket Books, Berkley Books, MacFadden, Dell and others. After his firstwife's death he dropped most of his commercial work during the 1960s, then returned in the 1970s, not quite so prolifically but as forcefully as ever. He has had many exhibitions, in New York's Rehn Gallery and elsewhere; his work commands as much respect outside sf as in it. With RMP's work the packaging of sf could be said to have come of age. Coversno longer required glamorous space girls or technological hardware, and Surrealism captured sf's disturbing essence just as strongly as ray-gunsor monsters. A portfolio is Spacetimewarp Paintings(1983).
   PN/JG

Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. . 2011.

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