John Holmes, 1935–2011



Artist John Holmes, whose obituary was published this week, had a style that was immediately recognisable from the many paintings featured on book covers (and a few record sleeves) in the 1970s and 1980s. His painting for The Female Eunuch is by far the most well-known, of course, although I often used to wonder how many people who knew the picture could have named the artist responsible. Holmes’ art brought a touch of Magritte-like Surrealism to cover illustration (at times the debt to Magritte was quite overt), and his images are familiar to anyone in the UK who was reading science fiction or horror during the 70s. He also has the distinction of being the first artist to provide a cover for an M. John Harrison book with the painting for Harrison’s debut novel, The Committed Men, in 1971. (Or not quite… See comments.)

The McNeill Gallery has some original work for sale while the artist himself talked about some of his cover art at All Things Horror.





Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive
The book covers archive

3 thoughts on “John Holmes, 1935–2011”

  1. Hi Jon
    I think John Holmes may have been pipped to the post by whoever did the cover for the UK edition of The Committed Men. Photography for that is attributed to Chris Yates. It’s an interesting cover, very much of its time.
    I’m enjoying your Burroughs posts. I met him at a party at around that time, courtesy of Mike Moorcock. All I remember is being so terrified I didn’t know what to say, & Burroughs offering me a plate of cakes, possibly in an attempt to calm me down. I went home to my partner & said: William Burroughs offered me a plate of cakes. Unable to separate the man from the books, I puzzled over the significance of this for many years…

  2. Hi Mike, and thanks, that’s one I haven’t seen. I thought I’d checked the details at the ISFDB but looking there now it’s evident I wasn’t paying attention.

    Re: Burroughs, I seem to have exhausted that particular thread (and possibly the patience of some readers) for the moment. Unless something else occurs. I’m sure I would have been speechless in his presence, it was unreal enough simply seeing him on stage in 1982. In the Bockris book there’s some mention of his dislike of parties so he may have felt uncomfortable himself.

Comments are closed.