Selections from ‘Suburbia’ by Bill Owens, 1973

Look at that living room, so similar to many of the ones I grew up around and yet so much less pokey, so much more relaxed. Those cars, those bizarre technologies we were constantly struggling to understand in cartoons and comics—pull carts, barbecues, six packs—all in the middle of this massive, consequenceless nowhere where it was always warm and never rained. We lived in estates too, but nothing like these huge, smoothly landscaped labyrinths, low to the ground like military installations. Wow, what a place…

Bob Pepper Cover Art for Isaac Asimov’s ‘Lucky Starr’ Series, 1971 – 1972

Originally published between 1952 and 1958 under the pseudonym Paul French, Isaac Asimov’s Lucky Star series details the exploits of David “Lucky” Starr, a prototypical pulp hero waging prototypical “Us vs. Them” adventures. The books were originally intended as the basis for a children’s television series, a sort of science-fictional Lone Ranger, but the project was abandoned when a competing network started developing Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (1954)…

Chess King Ads by Boris Vallejo, 1986

Boris Vallejo was at the height of his fame when he took on this commission for Chess King, an American retailer specializing in hip young men’s fashion, in 1986. Vallejo moved to the United States in 1964 from his native Peru to work in commercial art and pulp paperback covers in their ’60s and ’70s heyday, honing his skills painting the rippling thews of barbarian kings and the oiled curves of their female companions…

‘Wasteland’ by Alex Grey, 1982

In 1972, artist Alex Grey began to realize a series of art installations/performances dealing with themes including death, transcendence, and transformation. As recession began to take hold and the Cold War intensified during the first years of the 1980s, Britain and the U.S. elected reactionary, hawkish leaders, fears of imminent nuclear war spread…

Illustrated Law Enforcement Training Targets, Circa 1982 – 1988

In the early 1980s, an officer of the Judicial Police of Belgian city Liège, Francis Dorao, began seeking a cost-effective method for providing more realistic simulations of high-risk situations for police target training, claiming that the traditional black silhouette targets did not adequately prepare officers to face actual human opponents or to make the split-second decisions necessary when distinguishing between an armed threat and an innocent bystander…

Vanishing Point: How the Light Grid Defined 1980s Futurism

By Richard McKenna

Of all the visual shorthand for a particular type of outmoded futurism, one of the most immediately recognizable—like the chrome lettering with which it is often paired—must be the light grid. Usually depicted as a network of glowing straight lines receding in perspective against a black background, occasionally with the outlines of mountains or the blush of dawn visible on the horizon…