by Jesse Marinoff Reyes ( Jesse Marinoff Reyes Design, Maplewood, N.J.)
Illustration: Richard M. Powers (1921-1996)
Despite a monograph of his paintings that was published a decade ago (The Art of Richard Powers; Paper Tiger, 2001), or inclusion in any random sci-fi omnibus collections (a la Vincent Di Fate’s Infinite Worlds, Viking Studio, 1997), what’s really called for is a collection of Richard Powers’s commercial output, even if limited to his sci fi pulp paperback covers—which are legion. Powers did magazine covers and LP sleeves and hardcover jackets and lord knows what else and should really be documented more thoroughly and expertly. Sci fi illustration comrades Jack Gaughan and Ed “Emsh” Emshwiller have recently been documented in monographs, although I doubt how thoroughly in terms of their published output. Jazz LP master David Stone Martin has only been chronicled in an incomplete monograph from Japan—from 20 years ago! Todd Oldham’s monograph of Charley Harper opened the doors recently to a rediscovery of Modernist midcentury commercial art—perhaps opening the door to Kevin Reagan and Stephen Heller’s luxe catalog raissone of the father of album cover art, Alex Steinweiss. But art monographs of however obscure commercial artists—beloved by the cognecenti—are always a slippery slope for publishers—especially publishers without a commitment to documenting the arts. Sales, sales, sales, kiddies. And art books ain’t Elmore Leonard.
I could wax poetic about how important Powers was, how unique his work was in the context of commercial art. How his covers stand out even now on dusty, used bookstore shelves. But instead I’ll just continue to post his remarkable work