Charley Harper....an Illustrated Life

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  • For those of you who haven’t as yet had the pleasure, I am about to introduce you to the amazing work of the late American modernist artist, Charley Harper.

    I first came across, and fell in love with, Charleys work a number of years ago, whilst researching modernist style bird illustrations (of course).

    Charley was best known for his vast collection of highly stylized wildlife prints, posters and book illustrations. During his career, he illustrated numerous books, notably The Golden Book of Biology, magazines such as Ford Times, as well as many prints, posters, and other works. He also created works for many nature-based organizations, among them the National Park Service; Cincinnati Zoo; Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania and the Everglades National Park.

    In a style he called "minimal realism", Charley Harper captured the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible visual elements. When asked to describe his unique visual style, Charley responded, ‘When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced, without trimming or unutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe’.

    And that he does. Just beautifully.

    Prints of Charleys work are available from http://www.charleyharperprints.com, and I highly recommend the book ‘ An Illustrated Life’ , which catalogues hundreds of works from Charleys lengthy career, published by American Modern Books.

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    References: http://www.charleyharperprints.com