Charley Harper (Collage), Photo: Todd Oldham, 2007, © Charley Harper An Illustrated Life.

Charley Harper, The Name is Puffin, 1971, © Charley Harper Art Studio.

Charley Harper's Legacy of Wildlife and Nature Fantasy

Charley Harper, Cool Carnivore, 1979, © Charley Harper Art Studio.

Charley Harper, Flamingo a Go Go, 1988, © Charley Harper Art Studio.

installation view Kunstverein Hamburg, 2011, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein Hamburg.

installation view Kunstverein Hamburg, 2011, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein Hamburg.

installation view Kunstverein Hamburg, 2011, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein Hamburg.

 

Kunstverein Hamburg
Klosterwall 23
+ 49 (0)40 32 21 57
Hamburg
Charley Harper
June 25-September 11, 2011

Birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, fish, the artwork of wildlife artist Charley Harper (1922 -2007) is a visual ecosystem in which elements of colour, shapes, lines and subjects are interrelated, interdependent and perfectly balanced. Harper had an unique ability to capture the essence of any living organism. His works still challenge our perceptions of nature, and offer a new and unexpected way to enjoy it, both visually and verbally. 

In a style he called "minimal realism", Charley Harper captured the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible visual elements. As an artist, he was less interested in creating the illusion of dimension than he was in capturing the infinite patterns and designs of nature. Unlike traditional super realistic wildlife art, his is flat, simple, playful and funny. When asked once 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, colour combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behaviour and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures."

His style distilled and simplified complex organisms and natural subjects without losing identity, yet they are often arranged in a complex fashion. Using his mechanical drawing tools: ruling, pen and compass, T-square, triangles and French curves, Harper drew orthographically, using direct front, rear, side, top and bottom views to reveal the uniqueness of the creature he depicted.  

Showing his work for the first time in Germany the exhibition in Kunstverein Hamburg assembles more than 60 silk screens of Charley Harper’s colourful wildlife.

Charley Harper, Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, 1956, © Charley Harper Art Studio

Charley Harper, Dolfun, 1977, © Charley Harper Art Studio.

installation view Kunstverein Hamburg, 2011, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein Hamburg.

Charley Harper, Best Dressed, 1973, © Charley Harper Art Studio.

installation view Kunstverein Hamburg, 2011, Photo: Fred Dott / Kunstverein Hamburg.

Charley Harper, Roseate Spoonbill, 1958, © Charley Harper Art Studio.