Glenn Brown has turned some of your favorite book covers into "re-appropriated" paintings. In 1996, he painted "Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis)," which is the spitting image of famed artist Chris Foss' cover for Isaac Asimov's The Stars Like Dust. In 2000, he painted "The Loves of Shepherds," a near copy of artist Anthony Robert's cover for Robert Heinlein's Double Star. And then there's "Bocklin's Tomb," Brown's reimagining of Chris Foss' "Floating Cities." The paintings have sold for millions, io9 reports.
"Brown merges the conventions of science fiction illustration with the spectacle of large-scale history or landscape painting."
Some artists might call Brown's work transformative, but not science fiction author Scott Edelman. "I'm horrified by the £3,554,500 ($5,684,356) Glenn Brown's painting 'Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis)' sold for at auction," he writes. "Save for a few minor tweaks, it's nearly identical to the cover Chris Foss painted for a 1984 edition of Isaac Asimov's The Stars Like Dust." Brown claims to have altered colors, redrawn critical elements, enlarged the work originally meant for a book cover, and placed his art within a different context, like an art gallery. And Brown gives due credit to the art that inspired his, even if he claims that his works are more different than they outwardly appear to be.
"By enlarging [the book covers] so dramatically, Brown merges the conventions of science fiction illustration with the spectacle of large-scale history or landscape painting by artists such as Jacques-Louis David and J.M.W. Turner," says a program at the Tate Liverpool gallery. Edelman understands this, but challenges Brown to pass along some of his earnings to Foss. But unfortunately for Edelman, the public's evaluation of an artwork (and ignorance, in some cases) isn't up to him. Like Roy Lichtenstein before him, the value of Brown's work is in the eye of the beholder — and the auction-goer.