Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Pop Collage of Atelier Heinrichs & Bachmann, Part I

Pop surrealism? Lowbrow art? The Andy Warhol effect? However you classify Atelier Heinrichs & Bachmann’s covers for the German press Heyne Bücher (produced between 1966-1971), they’re gleeful and sarcastic. I’d wager their cover for Frank Herbert’s Dune Messiah (1969) above pokes fun at the US 1st edition by Jack Gaughan. The collaged sculpture giggles forth with its pastel halo like a Tiki-recast of Gaughan’s stoic monument to Muad-Dib. Gaughan’s mysterious orb now transformed as blue bubble-gum bubbles (or water droplets on a desert planet?). Regardless of whether or the design team saw the US 1st edition, this streak of impish fun runs throughout their covers.

In 2016, I covered The Cryptic Diagrams and Collaged Heads of Atelier Heinrichs. They too were possessed by moments of kitsch and collage. I’m assuming that Bachmann joined the team for the years 1966-1971. Atelier Heinrichs produced covers before and after Bachmann (isfdb link). I cannot find more information in German or English about the artists involved and the nature of their “atelier.” If you find anything, let me know!

The covers in this post crisscross a vast spectrum of visual symbology and image fragments–from the Statue of Liberty to advertisements for Caesar dressing. They are all characterized by garish colors and visual verve. While rarely related to the contents of the books in more than a surface way, they encapsulate the excitement and weirdness I adore in 60s/70s SF art.

Their covers for the 1971 edition of Frank Herbert’s Dune Messiah (1969) and the 1970 edition of John Brunner’s Slavers of Space (1960) are my favorites from the bunch!

Thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Do you have a favorite cover?


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25 thoughts on “Adventures in Science Fiction Cover Art: The Pop Collage of Atelier Heinrichs & Bachmann, Part I

  1. I don’t think I’ve seen anything quite like these. They’re weird and funny, but seem to capture the mutable nature of SF. I find it very difficult to pick favourites, they’re all excellent. The one with the woman’s mouth is particularly striking though.

    • It did pop into my head whether or not you’d like them — and I thought you might not! Glad I was wrong. haha

      I think the cover you mention for the 1970 edition of John Brunner’s Slavers of Space (1960) might be compositionally the most satisfying and fascinating. I enjoy the cityscape arrayed above the lips and the rolling blue hills. And of course the strange activities happening in the foreground. It’s a good one!

  2. The composition of the Dune cover mirrors Gaughan’s too perfectly for it not to be a response and I love your interpretation! 😃 These are all so fab, I’m not sure I can pick a favourite … 😍

  3. In my view these Atelier Heinrichs & Bachmann embarrassingly awful covers are so ugly as to represent the very nadir in SF cover art. Even the minimalist dust jacket art of the UK Science Fiction Book Club hardback series commencing 1953 is preferable. Take a look at some of these here:
    http://www.gostak.org.uk/sfbc/sfbc2.htm
    I rest my case — and my eyes.

    • Thanks for stopping by.

      So I’m guessing you aren’t a fan of Warhol or pop art in any way, or, for that manner, giggle a bit at the art in a tiki bar? I must confess, I prefer these immensely over those bland Book Club additions you linked. In my view, at least these have character and epitomize the snark about contemporary culture present in so much SF of the 60s/70s. For me interchangeable Foss blobships represent the nadir of SF art. haha

      • I do like pop art and some Warhol, and I also collect comic books which boast several great artists. My reference to SFBC covers was as a minimalist alternative to the jarring incongruities of Atelier Heinrichs & Bachmann which are headache inducing mismatches of bits of found art. Nothing harmonious or pleasing to the eye. Even the boring repetition of the stark SFBC covers is to be preferred, in my view. The real superstars of SF art of course are Emsh, Freas, Virgil Finlay, and company, as you well know.

        • I find them harmonious or pleasing to my eye.

          Yeah, I know all of those you listed. I prefer surreal, experimental, etc. SF art. especially with collaged elements i.e. the stuff that represents the literary inventiveness of the New Wave movement I’m partial to.

          Of the more “classic” SF artists, I enjoy Powers, Lehr, Stanley Meltzoff, Mitchell Hooks, Emsh, and others.

  4. Can’t say that I really love that cover art. But they were and are part of my SF life. Just checked at some of the Heyne covers and instantly grabbed another one for Brunner’s The Production of Time (Heyne 3137), Entry to Elsewhen (3427, which is SFionally decent). I didn’t check thoroughly (and my Heyne collection isn’t anything like complete at all), but noted covers from the Atelier at Aldiss’s novels, Ballard’s etc.
    The Dune series’s covers where changed some years later to the lovely covers from John Schoenherr. They even contain lots of interior illustrations from him.

  5. Concerning background of the Atelier, I haven’t found anything within the books. Just an idea if you want to dig deeper: We have the “Phantastische Bibliothek Wetzlar”, a library specialized on speculative literature and research around it (they have around 300k titles). As far as I know, they are well connected and might help you: mail@phantastik.eu – their website is https://www.phantastik.eu/ (German website only, sorry). They have a wiki entry here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantastische_Bibliothek_Wetzlar

  6. These covers came out before my SFF reading time, though I still saw them in used bookshops and on flea markets. My teenaged self didn’t particularly like them and preferred the Michael Whelan, Frank Frazetta and Bors Vallejo covers on the US editions from the import bookstore. My adult self likes them quite a bit.

    The collage look is very much of its time and popped up on a lot of German paperback covers, particularly by Heyne. It wasn’t just SFF either, I have non-fiction books with pop art collage covers in my collection.

    Though I suspect trying to recreate the collage look for book covers now would be a copyright nightmare. Though I am tempted to give it a try.

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