A painting by British artist John Holmes.
From the time he held his first solo art exhibition in 1961, the art of British painter and illustrator John Holmes has expanded the minds of his fans with his imaginative take on monsters and other makers of mayhem. After hustling his craft hard in the early 60s, a few years later Holmes found himself busy working almost non-stop creating artwork for all kinds of publications including Playboy and UK women’s magazine, Nova. Later, Holmes would hook up with the art director for British publishing company Granada Books, and his ghoulish illustrations would be used widely on titles from authors such as H.P. Lovecraft, Samuel Beckett, Thomas Pynchon and perhaps most famously on the cover of the 1970 edition of Germaine Greer’s book, The Female Eunuch. Holmes’ floating female torso for Greer’s book was preceded by his disquieting work featured on the album cover, gatefold and back of Ceremony: An Electronic Mass—the collaboration of prog rock band Spooky Tooth and French electro-producer Pierre Henry .
Initially, Holmes’ work was much more abstract—a stark contrast to his strangely realistic work which would make him famous. His art was also widely used for the popular series The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories—and if you were a child of the late 60s, 70s or even the early 80s, I’m sure you will recognize at least one of Holmes’ eerie, minimalistic paintings in this post. Much of what follows is NSFW.
Holmes’ artwork which appeared on the cover of an edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Tomb (and other stories).’
The cover of Thomas Pynchon’s ‘Gravity’s Rainbow.’
Holmes’ cover for the 1973 book by Poul Anderson, ‘Beyond the Beyond.’
The cover of the H.P. Lovecrafts’s ‘Tales of The Cthulhu Mythos (volume 2),’ 1973.
The cover of ‘The Ghouls: Book One: The Stories Behind the Classic Horror Films’ from 1974 (original published as one volume in 1971). Of note to all you horror junkies out there, the introduction was written by Vincent Price.
Holmes’ wild cover for a 1974 edition of Samuel Beckett’s collection of short stories ‘More Pricks Than Kicks.’
Holmes’ work as seen in OMNI magazine in 1981.
‘The Evil People,’ an anthology of stories edited by Peter Haining with cover art by Holmes, 1968.
Artwork for a 1971 edition of H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘The Lurking Fear (and other stories).’
The artwork for the 1971 edition of ‘The Shuttered Room (and other tales of horror),’ by H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth.
Another piece by Holmes’ used for the cover of H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘At the Mountains of Madness (and other tales of terror)’ published in 1971.
One of Holmes’ many covers for the book series ‘The Fontana Book of Great Horror Stories.’
The second volume of The Ghouls published in 1974 with Holmes’ artwork.
The infamous artwork for the 1970 edition of Germaine Greer’s book, ‘The Female Eunuch.’
The insane gatefold image by Holmes for ‘Ceremony: An Electronic Mass.’
The unflinching cover of ‘Ceremony: An Electronic Mass.’ The artwork for the back cover is below.
Holmes’ cover for the progressive rock band Be-Bop Deluxe for their 1974 album ‘Axe Victim.’
The cover of Uriah Heep 1977 album ‘Innocent Victim.’
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Cosmic Slop: Pedro Bell’s fantastic, far-out and funky Funkadelic album art
Far-out sci-fi album art for ELO, Giorgio Moroder, Earth, Wind & Fire and more by Shusei Nagaoka
‘In Circles’: The Surrealist Paintings of Sunny Day Real Estate album artist Chris Thompson