Alexei Panshin's The Abyss of Wonder



    Fifty years ago, when I was a youngster, my parents had a subscription to Time, and I became fascinated by the covers of the magazine which were regularly drawn by Boris Artzybasheff, who did 215 of them between 1941 and 1965.  These were sharp, idealized portrait of figures in the news, usually with some symbolic or fantastic element as a decorative commentary.  One of these days, when the originals have been rediscovered, a unique and brilliant Twentieth Century portrait gallery by Artzybasheff is waiting to be assembled.

    Artzybasheff was born in Russia in 1899, the son of novelist Mikhail Artzybasheff.  After the Russian Revolution, he wound up as an artist in the United States. 

    Before his long gig with Time, Artzybasheff drew book dust jackets and illustrations, and magazine ads.  He was a master craftsman, with a wide array of techniques at his command, and there was usually an idiosyncratic and imaginative element to his work.  A sampling was published as a book by Dodd, Mead under the title As I See -- recently republished in quality paperback by Ken Steacy Publishing. 

    Artzybasheff died in 1965, and his art has become hard to find in the years since.  I'm only familiar with a small portion of his work, but the part I know, I love. 

    Here is a sample of the Artzybasheff eye -- sometimes skeptical, not always thrilled by the behavior of his fellows, respectful of the design and character of a good machine, ready to see the whole world come to life, and uniquely imaginative. 

    I'd be grateful to hear from anyone who has other examples to share.


(Click on any thumbnail for a larger view.)


Return to Art of the Abyss

Take a Leap Into the Unknown