May 2, 2018 9:21 AM   Subscribe

Ed Emshwiller (bio) was an award winning artist whose paintings (often signed “EMSH”) graced hundreds of science fiction novels and magazines beginning in the 1950s. Here’s a gallery, and here's a list; click through to see most of the covers. He was also a filmmaker and pioneering video artist who founded the CalArts Computer Animation Lab and was dean of the school of film and video there until his death in 1990. Some films: Thanatopsis (1962), Carol (1970), Film with Three Dancers (1971), part of Scape-Mates (1972), Sunstone (1979). Also, a 1978 interview with Emsh on the Dick Cavett Show.
posted by goatdog (6 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I attended an SF con in the late 80s that Emsh was scheduled to be Guest of Honor at, but illness prevented him from being able to travel. His family made sure his paintings made the trip though, and it was a real treat to see these pulp-era paintings first-hand.

His best stuff had a sense of drama and wit that I think only Frank Kelly Freas could do better, but Emsh's work, no matter how lurid, also managed to have some kind of grace and formality where Freas would gleefully double-down on the cheese. In my high school days, buying old sci-fi at random used bookstores in town with whatever money I could save, Emshwiller's covers were things I learned to spot from across the room; always fun to spend a couple minutes with even if I put the book back on the shelf because the contents were obviously crud.
posted by ardgedee at 9:43 AM on May 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

Love the pulp covers, he did a lot of different styles.

For some reason I feel like I saw so much of this experimental film type stuff as a kid, and I feel like we saw it in school, did everyone? I hated it so much (and the music that went with it) it really influenced what I did as a young adult. It's got to be partially responsible for Punk Rock. But as an adult I can appreciate it in at least a historical sense, and can finally embrace some of the music.
posted by bongo_x at 11:30 AM on May 2, 2018

Emsh & Zippy:
Show and Tell
posted by hexatron at 1:58 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Wow, this takes me back. By the time I entered my teens I noticed and appreciated his style, and always looked forward to that "EMSH" on the cover of a new issue of F&SF or Galaxy. I had to tear myself away from that list of his work (Jesus, he was prolific! but of course you had to be, I imagine the budgets were minuscule). Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 3:13 PM on May 2, 2018 [2 favorites]

Ditto ^
posted by y2karl at 6:49 AM on May 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

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