Klapheck versus Ballard


left: The Hostage (1966); right: The Female Terrorist (1971). Both by Konrad Klapheck.

No, I’m not suggesting that David Pelham’s paintings for the Ballard covers he designed in the 1970s are inspired by the earlier work of German artist Konrad Klapheck. But it’s tempting to think of Klapheck’s isolated objects as being intended for Ballard collections that never saw the light of day. Klapheck has connections with late Surrealism, and some of his paintings prefigure the styles and concerns of Pop Art, so I’m sure Ballard would have approved.


Three of Pelham’s memorable Ballard paintings were made available as signed and numbered prints earlier this year, together with his design for A Clockwork Orange. For more about the covers see Landscapes From a Dream: How the Art of David Pelham Captured the Essence of JG Ballard’s Early Fiction, an essay at Ballardian. The designer discussed his career at some length in 2007. Then there’s the complete set of covers at the Penguin Science Fiction site, and let’s not forget Konrad Klapheck who’s still painting and who has a website here.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The book covers archive

3 thoughts on “Klapheck versus Ballard”

  1. Mmmmm, always loved that series of Pelham/Ballard covers.

    Pelham popped up about a year ago on a BBC4 doc about book cover design, specifically talking about the last minute creation of the ‘Clockwork Orange’ cover. It’s not often you even get a chance to put a face on names that are knocking about for years in the cultural filing cabinet of your brain.

  2. Hi John. Thanks for another fascinating post, which I forwarded to David Pelham earlier today, as I’ve spent much of this year working with him on the limited edition prints of his Ballard paintings, and I thought he’d be interested in your comparision between his paintings and those of Konrad Klaphek. David remains as busy as ever but was delighted to read your post and asked me to thank you, as he’s been a huge admirer or Klaphek’s work for many years. So yes, I think Ballard would’ve approved, and David Pelham certainly does.

    Incidentally, David’s paintings for The Four-Dimensional Nightmare and Flying to Wake Island will also be released in the next few months, and we’re releasing a series of Berthold Wolpe prints in the next week or so which you may like too.

    Best wishes, and thanks again,

    James Pardey.

  3. Hi James. Many thanks for that, I’ve admired Pelham’s work for a long time, in fact I knew his Ballard covers (and the Burgess one) before I got round to reading any of the books.

    If you drop me a line when the new prints are ready I’ll be sure to mention them here.

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