Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life
Birds, insects, monkeys, and 12.6 pounds of design genius.
By Maria Popova
If you think of nature illustration as the sterile visuals of a science book, you haven’t seen the work of Charlie Harper. The iconic American modernist, famous for his spunky stylized wildlife illustrations, spent more than six decades adorning books and posters with his highly distinctive artwork.
In 2001, New York based designer Todd Oldham — a legend in his own right — rediscovered Charley’s work and decided to comb through his ample archive, collaborating closely with Harper to curate, edit and design a book that captures the iconic style of the great master. When Charley passed away in 2007 at the age of 84, Oldham went on to publish Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life — a magnificent coffee table tome full of illustrations in Harper’s unique self-described “minimal realism.”
The book is massive tribute to Harper’s work — literally. At 12.6 pounds, the 424-page A3 monster is a dramatic, visually gripping antidote to today’s nano-culture. It’s also a lovely reminder that — as much as we love the interwebs — experiencing artwork on the screen is just never quite the same as the rich, lush, tactile glory of perfect print.
Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life comes as a must-have for the serious design aficionado — so snag it for your own library, or as a certain-to-floor gift for a visually passionate other.
Published August 17, 2009