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Van der Poel, W I

Entry updated 28 October 2014. Tagged: Artist.

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(1908-1987) Working name of American artist Washington Irving Van der Poel Jr, who sometimes included the "Jr" in his name. While there is not an abundance of biographical information about this artist, Van der Poel is known to have worked as the art director for H L Gold's Galaxy during the 1950s, which explains why he was one of the figures depicted on Ed Emshwiller's cover for its October 1952 issue, attending a futuristic party along with luminaries like Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert A Heinlein, and Theodore Sturgeon. Surprisingly, though, it seems that he never contributed any artwork to the magazine.

He did, however, produced a number of book covers for Gnome Press between 1956 and 1961, and while these covers were limited to two or three colours, Van der Poel's simple designs could nonetheless be rather stunning: for Heinlein's collection The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (coll 1959), for example, he depicted a male figure penetrating a slanted plane, starkly rendered in black and white, while his cover for E E "Doc" Smith's The Vortex Blaster (fixup 1960; vt Masters of the Vortex 1968) foregrounded a pensive human face within a flaming ball against a red background. One might also single out his cover for Wallace West's The Bird of Time (fixup 1959), a haunting image of a winged woman, or his cover for Judith Merril's SF '57: The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy (anth 1957), an interesting array of strange images in soft pastels. A similar cover, for Arthur K Barnes's Interplanetary Hunter (1956), was a collaboration with Emshwiller, an artist he had frequently worked with at Galaxy. Overall, his contributions to the genre may not have been vast or significant, but he does seem a figure that somebody should be talking about. [GW]

Washington Irving Van der Poel Jr

born New York: 7 July, 1908

died 30 October, 1987


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