(Yves Tanguy’s cover for the 1963 edition of Mission of Gravity (1954), Hal Clement)
On the birthday of French-American surrealist Yves Tanguy (1900-1955) (January 5th), I always take a minute to browse his art online. I faintly recalled seeing his art on various 1960s Penguin edition covers…. And lo and behold, J. G. Ballard’s New Wave masterpiece The Drowned World (1962) and Hal Clement’s pioneering work of hard SF, Mission of Gravity (1954) were both graced with Tanguy’s canvases. Penguin regularly used the work of famous mainstream artists–for example, Max Ernst (I identified ten covers). China Miéville’s novella “The Last Days of New Paris” (2018) also uses a Tanguy/Lamba/Breton exquisite corpse collage (I’m focusing primarily on earlier covers in this post).
I’ve found Tanguy’s art, often extensive plains populated by faintly organic undulating shapes, relentlessly inventive and appealing. In addition, he was married to my single favorite American surrealist, Kay Sage (responsible for funding/supporting many French surrealists who came to the US during WWII). Unfortunately, her work did not appear on SF covers from the 60s-70s.
(Yves Tanguy’s cover art for the 1965 edition of The Drowned World (1962), J. G. Ballard)
For more Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art consult the INDEX