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Szafran, Gene

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Artist.

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(1941-2011) American artist. After attending Detroit's Art School of the Society of Arts and Crafts, Szafran worked as an artist in that city until he moved to New York City in 1967 and began receiving some high-profile assignments, including album covers for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Rhinoceros and artwork for magazines like Playboy and Cosmopolitan. He began producing sf book covers in 1970, usually featuring stylized human figures: one early cover of note, for the 1970 paperback edition of Anna Kavan's Ice (1967), showed a beautiful naked woman surrounded by snowflakes, rendered mostly in shades of blue, while his covers for Robert Hoskins's anthologies The Stars Around Us (anth 1970) and Swords Against Tomorrow (anth 1970) prefigured the highly coloured, less realistic approach that he later employed in his best known works, a series of unique covers for Signet republications of books by Robert A Heinlein that remain well remembered to this day. Yet Szafran was more versatile than such examples might suggest, as shown by the attractively segmented mountain he painted for a 1976 republication of Franz Werfel's Star of the Unborn (1946).

After only two years of work, Szafran received the Locus Award as Best Cover Artist, and he seemed likely to remain a major sf artist for many years before his career was prematurely ended in the late 1970s by multiple sclerosis. No longer able to produce artwork, he returned to Detroit to live in obscurity until his death in 2011. [GW]

Gene Szafran

born Hamtramck, Michigan (some sources report Detroit): 11 April 1941

died Detroit, Michigan: 8 January, 2011


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