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April 22, 2005

Illustrations of Charles Harper

Look at these cool illustrations from The Golden Book of Biology (1962) drawn by Charles Harper. Harper is a favorite of mine who tends to be overlooked - at least for his commercial work. He's better known for his limited edition serigraphs of abstracted animals, but I find that stuff too sterile and commercial. The real gems of his are the nature prints he did for Ford Times and other publications from the '50s and early '60s. Click on for more.

Elegantly stylized nature scenes were definitely his thing. However, Harper took a detour with the Betty Crocker's Dinner for Two Cookbook (1958). As you can see, he worked in a looser, brushier style for this project. The drawings exude a sophisticated whimsy -- and they're quite funny (in a sometimes sick way). Who else would decorate the meat section with a "Mary Had a Little Lamb" scene?
Great use of spot color, too. Someday I'm going to make a website with many more samples of Harper's unsung illustration work.

Posted by mhinrichs at April 22, 2005 12:11 PM


You did not mention that we have three original Harpers in our living room. His work is wonderful to live with!

Posted by: Christopher at April 22, 2005 01:34 PM

GOR-GEOUS!!! Never seen or heard of this guy-look at the beautiful ripples on the fish one and the reverse touches on the measuring stuff-WOW!

Thanks for sharing, Sharon!!

Posted by: B! at April 22, 2005 03:49 PM

fantastic work!...thanks for sharing this

Posted by: natalie at April 23, 2005 10:23 AM

Oh yes, more please. I've got an exhibition poster of his on my living room wall and I agree, it's great to live with. The cookbook looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing this.

Posted by: Anne at April 24, 2005 02:15 PM

It is so fabulous to find anything Charley Harper! I am a 46 year old artist who received Harper's "The Animal Kingdom" book when I was ten. I still have the book ... it has gone with me to grade school, to high school, to college and is still used to this day to spark my imagination. I literally see something new in this book every time I use it! His elegant illustrations are fabulous in line, form, color, detail and humor. Harper's work is always a fresh marvel!

Posted by: Jane at May 23, 2005 09:57 AM
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