Charley Harper 1922-2007


American Modernist, Charley Harper is synonymous with mid century style illustrations and graphic design. He began his illustrious 60-year career as an artist when he attended The Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he later taught and inspired younger artists a love of nature. He was best known for his highly stylized wildlife prints, posters and book illustrations and he is one of the most influential and reproduced American artists of the 20th century.

Born in French town, West Virginia , his upbringing on his family farm influenced his work to his last days. During his 60 year career, he illustrated numerous books, and often created works for many nature-based organizations. His work focused squarely on birds, insects, and fish, and includes many other natural and animistic themes, such as Biodiversity and Ecology. His bold, stylized images of natural scenes and his whimsical representations of animals contributed to Charley Harper’s vision of "protecting and preserving nature;" 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, he 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 underutilized parts; and herein lies the lure of the painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe.”


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