The late Charley Harper believed that “humor makes it easier to encourage change in our attitudes and awareness of environmental concerns”. For more than six decades, Harper painted his wonderful colorful and graphic interpretations of animals and nature in the style he referred to as “minimal realism”. Harper’s work was playful but also demonstrated a love and understanding of his subjects.
Harper was engaged to illustrate a series of posters for the US Department of Interior, each showcasing one national park and by Ford Times to do a series of “Feeding Station Birds”.
During his career, Harper began to lose interest in realism and instead chose to embrace the two dimensional plane of his piece with an image which was flat, hard edged and simple. I love Harper’s work for this very reason, the results are bold and fanciful. Although simple, there is an attention to detail and many places for the eye to travel within each piece.
Todd Oldham is a fan and it’s easy to picture a Harper print in one of Oldham’s whimsical retro interiors. I can easily see the Glacier Bay poster in an office, Treed in an entryway above a walnut console and Honey Bunny in a little girl’s room. Harper’s pieces would complement midcentury, scandinavian or modern pieces.
Prints and other products including device skins with Charley Harper images are available for purchase online at the Charley Harper Art Studio.
All photos courtesy of the Estate of Charley Harper.