Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Otherworldly Textures and the Patina of Decay (the SF art of Philippe Jean)

(Cover for Fiction, 133 (1964), ed. Alain Dorémieux)

The four credited covers of Philippe Jean for the French SF magazine Fiction (between 1963-1964) show remarkable clarity of vision. Each explores the patina of decay made manifest in a haunting landscape that stretches across the page, still inhabited by small figures who weave among the ruined buildings and statuary. The detail from Fiction, #133 below shows a decaying recumbent form amongst brittle shadows of the masts of stranded ships — small human figures move around it.

In another instance, here Fiction, 121, a solitary statue, with its equine form still intact, juts forth amongst other shapes that have lost their defining characteristics. The full cover image at the end of the post also shows humans moving around the edges of the image observing the remaining testament of a previous civilization.

Although I know little about the artist (let me know if you discover more about him), he worked well within the confines of Fiction‘s one color scheme requirements (brown + black + gray, or, blue + black + gray). As with so many of Fiction‘s artists, he demonstrates delightful line-work. In the detail from Fiction, 122, human forms move between natural stone formations and a pyramid (tomb?)….

And my final detail narrows in on the human occupants of a shadowy landscape, where the landscapes they observe have lost definitive shape (Fiction, 129) The full cover includes Dali-esque supports that prop up the languid supine mass.

For more Adventures in Science Fiction Art posts consult the INDEX.

Thematically similar posts include The Science Fiction Covers of Max Ernst and Claude Lacroix’s Delicate Lines and Mutations (60s/70s Covers for the French SF Magazine Fiction).

The full covers

(Cover for Fiction, 121 (1963), ed. Alain Dorémieux)

(Cover for Fiction, 122 (1964), ed. Alain Dorémieux)

(Cover for Fiction, 129 (1964), ed. Alain Dorémieux)

19 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: Otherworldly Textures and the Patina of Decay (the SF art of Philippe Jean)”

    1. I found him as well — unfortunately I couldn’t directly link him to the covers. If you find anything else please let me know (French sources are fine as I can read it pretty easily)!

        1. Thank you for asking! Huge fan of Curval’s 50s art for Fiction and look forward to reading his SF (or at least what’s in translation).

          Perhaps I’ll have a Curval art post soon.

      1. Hi Joachim, only found this site last night, firstly thank you for uncovering these four cover works by this artist as I have been searching for more since 97/98 but I may have something you might enjoy but don’t know how to let you see it as I dont twitter or use facebook.
        The first image on this site ( fiction 133 cover) shows a signature and similar style which I have been searching for, for years now, and on the artwork I have, the signature is identical except I have 66 after the signature,I believe I have an original piece of artwork by this artist, i bought it when living in London and have been searching long and hard to find out more about this artist, but unfortunately hit a dead end, I did manage to take it to an antiques roadshow not long after I bought it but they could’nt tell me much about the artist himself,the drawing i have (in my personal opinion) is far darker and far more detailed than those you have uncovered above, my picture by Phillippe Jean is extremly surrealist I can only describe it as a human organic harvester city with a cubist ruined city in the background the detail on drawing is incredible (as an artist myself,I wish I could draw like this) on the backing of this artwork is a sticker which states “previously incribribed on the verso” Exeter Loan” Herbert Reiner” the only reference I could find to H Reiner was something to do with Mahatmagandi (maybe commissioned by Reiner?) anyway sorry cant give more information regarding this artist (had hoped somebody mabye found a book or similar) , wish you all the best in the serch for more of this phenomenal artists work and hope to mabye find a way to show you the one I have, all the best D8A.

        1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by — and I’ve excited you’ve identified the artist!

          If you want to send me an image of the piece of art: ciceroplatobooks (at) gmail (dot) com

          The piece sounds downright fascinating…..

  1. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like these,at least not on SF covers or in illustration.They look classical but modernistic.A sinister aura of entropy and decay pervades the atmosphere of the pictures.Very cerebral.

    1. I have additional Fiction magazine posts planned from the same era — they definitely were going for a particular look and, although none are exactly like Philippe Jean’s art, many have some stylistic similarities.

      If I was going to pick a better known artist who is sort of similar in some ways (especially the decaying bodies) I’d suggest Dali — who created innumerable pen drawings.

      For example: Dali’s The Reality of a Dream, pen and sepia ink, 1960.

      The Fiction listing is here if you’re curious: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/seriesgrid.cgi?36567

      1. Yes,they reminded me of Dali.He also painted in a sort of neo classical style.

        Modern SF authors such as J.G.Ballard were influenced by Surrealist art,as you know.Philippe Jean’s work evokes the strange,frightening landscapes and inner states depicted in the writings of such as he I think.

        1. You’re right, there’s a cold austerity to his visions. I wish I knew more about the artist — and whether he’s the same person as the French sculptor linked by a commenter above.

Comment! Join the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.