Friday, January 9, 2015

Occupied Spaces

'Occupied Spaces'
by Brad Johannsen
Harmony Books, 1977

If, during the late 70s, you opened a copy of the Publishers Central Bureau mail order catalog of remaindered and overstocked books..... were certain to see listed one Occupied Spaces, a book of psychedelic artwork by Brad Johannsen.

Occupied Spaces (48 pp) was published by Harmony Books, a sub-imprint of Crown Books, who were the kingpin of remainder publishing and marketing in the 70s. They remain a force in retail bookselling even today, providing the 'bargain books' titles you see on the tables at the front of every Barnes and Noble.

Spaces contains some striking, intricate artwork, interspersed with excerpts of text and poems from sources as diverse as Arthur Rimbaud, science writer Louis Thomas, 'The Practice of Zen', and Johannsen himself.

Needless to say, Spaces belonged to that unique category of '70s stoner' art that Heavy Metal was soon to represent in such mannered glory......

Whether you are motivated by nostalgia, or the desire for appropriate visual accompaniment to getting stoned, Spaces is worth investigating. Copies in good condition can be had from your usual online retailers for reasonable prices.

Johannsen provided cover artwork for a number of books and record albums during the 70s, including High Tide, an illustrated compendium of stories and poems from Herman Hesse and Lao Tzu (.......very 70s.......). Unfortunately, used copies of High Tide are very pricey (starting at $95).

Interestingly, one of the reviewers of High Tide at relates an anecdote about meeting Johannsen:

I happened to meet Brad Johannsen in a conference room floating about the New York Public Library, where he opened a drawing book, borrowed some colored pencils from the art department, and instantly created a cover for a small booklet ... for cash (Brad was broke). Brad didn't own a single copy of his own books, and he had an interview coming up... so we agreed to meet again and I gave him my copy of his second book, Occupied Spaces.

Unfortunately, online searches for additional information about Brad Johannsen turn up little else. He was present when someone met Steve Wonder......and that's about all I could find.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for showing some of Brads drawings. He was truly the BEST artist of the day back then. If you see him again tell him Pete W says hi.

crateaholic said...

you may write to me about Brad Johannsen and his body of work and publishing at

Daniel's hat. said...

I searched his name on facebook, and came across an obituary dated november 2011


Thanks for posting these beautiful paintings