Valigursky, Ed

Tagged: Art

(1926-2009) Working name of American artist Edward Valigursky, sometimes credited as such or simply as Valigursky; on a few occasions, he used the pseudonym William Rembach. After artistic training at the Art Institute of Chicago, the American Academy of Arts, and the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, he began working as an associate art director for Ziff-Davis in 1952, became art director for Quinn Publishing in the following year, and moved into freelance work two years later. From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, he painted covers almost exclusively for three markets: Amazing Stories (49 covers), Fantastic (32 covers), and Ace Books (over 100 covers – attribution is sometimes complicated since he did not sign his work, and since Ace long declined to credit cover artists). Seeking better-paying markets, Valigursky later moved into advertising and did illustrations for general-fiction magazines like Collier's and nonfiction magazines like Popular Mechanics, continuing to work into the 1980s. His depictions of aviation and aerospace subjects, which were especially admired, have been featured in exhibits at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC and the Royal Air Force Museum in London.

Valigursky's sf work, often for Ace Doubles, sometimes looks hurried, but he was proficient at menacing Robots, like the rather rotund figures on the covers of the May 1958 issue of Amazing Stories and H Beam Piper's The Cosmic Computer (1959); the more sedate robot sitting at a table and turning a dial within a ruined city for a 1958 edition of Clifford D Simak's City (fixup 1952), however, is more impressive. He was also renowned for his characteristic needle-nosed Spaceships, seen on his covers for Poul Anderson's We Claim These Stars! (1959), the 1964 edition of Andre Norton's Plague Ship (1956), and many others. Such standard-issue artwork was perfectly suited for the Space Operas and futuristic melodramas that Ace was then noted for, yet some covers juxtapose some of his usual tropes in a more striking manner: his cover of Nick Boddie Williams's Atom Curtain (1956), features a hand pushing a button while missiles fly over a misty city in the background; the cover of the July 1957 issue of Amazing Stories dramatically shows a huge hairy hand crushing a spaceship in space; and his cover for Robert Moore Williams's The Lunar Eye (1964) foregrounds a domed moonbase firing an energy blast that splits a spaceship. His covers that focus on human figures tend to be less interesting, as demonstrated by his routine covers for three first editions of novels by Philip K Dick that may have become, for reasons unrelated to their quality, his most famous efforts. Overall, Valigursky cannot be regarded as a great sf artist, but for certain readers, his distinctive style will always be fondly associated with the simple pleasure of reading unambitious, unpretentious space adventures. [JG/PN/DRL/GW]

Edward I Valigursky

born New Kensington, Pennsylvania: 16 October 1926

died Cape Coral, Florida: 7 September 2009

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