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 Edward (Emsh) Emshwiller  (1925 - 1990)

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Lived/Active: California/New York/Michigan      Known for: science fiction illustration, comics, video art

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Ad Code: 3
Edward (Emsh) Emshwiller
from Auction House Records.
The Simulacra, paperback cover, 1964
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ed Emshwiller (born: Edmund Alexander Emshwiller) studied painting, illustration and design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.  After he graduated he went on to study at L'École des Beaux Arts in Paris and the Art Students League in New York City.

He soon became an abstract expressionist painter with an increasing number of successful shows behind him.  A self-assured kinetic assertiveness and choreographic impressibility distinguish his paintings from this period, while they betoken his fascination with dance.  Evidence of this is clearly shown in the artist's first experimental film "Paintings by Ed Emshwiller (1955-1958)" (In the film images of dancing bodies are interplayed with Emshwiller's abstract paintings).  Although well received as an abstract expressionist who kept on producing abstract work - due to quickly unfolding events - he became a major science fiction illustrator, winning the first Hugo Award in 1953 for Best Cover Artist.  In the following decades Emshwiller the comic book illustrator, known as EMSH,  envisioned fantastic worlds and surreal characters for the genre that earned him a total of five Hugo Awards.  As an avant-garde filmmaker, video artist, cinematographer, multimedia producer and educator he was recognized and awarded with international museum exhibitions end film festival prizes.

During the 60's and early 70's, he was active in the New American Cinema making experimental films, cine-dance, documentaries and multimedia performance pieces.  His documentary film The Streets of Greenwood recorded voter registration in service to the Civil Rights Movement.  After a period, during which he was artist-in-residence at the Television Laboratory WNET/13 in New York, he moved to California (in 1984) and became Dean of the School of Film and Video at California Institute of the Arts.  

Emshwiller's artistic legacy is housed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.  Letters, notebooks, stills, files, and other Emshwiller papers are in the collection of the American Film Institute Library.

Sources include:
Open source internet obituary, artist's website

Information provided by Lui Antal Deak

This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Ed Emshwiller, who usually signed his work as Ed Emsh or Emsler, was a visual artist notable for illustrations of science fiction covers and for his pioneering experimental films or video art. 

He was born in Lansing, Michigan and earned an undergraduate degree from the Unversity of Michigan in 1947.   He then went to Paris where he studied at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts from 1949 to 1950.   In 1949, he married Carol Emshwiller, a writer.  From 1950 to 1951, he studied in New York City at the Art Students League.  

Between 1951 and 1979, Emshwiller created covers and interior illustrations for dozens of science fiction paperbacks and magazines including Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

In 1990, Ed Emshwiller died of cancer in Valencia, California.  The California Institute of Arts has his papers archived.  In 2007, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.


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