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CHARLEY HARPER

BORN
1922–2007, Frenchtown, WV

EDUCATION
Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Art Students League, NY
West Virginia Wesleyan, WV

Charley Harper (1922-2007) was raised on a farm in rural West Virginia where he was first inspired to create. Harper, not keen on taking over the family farm, left to study art, first at West Virginia Wesleyan and then at the Art Academy of Cincinnati where he met his wife, artist Edie Harper. After two years at the Art Academy, Charley was drafted into the Army during World War II and served nearly three years. When the war ended, Charley used the GI Bill to go to school in New York at the Art Students League but left New York after a month and returned to the Art Academy where he finished his studies. After graduation, he received the Stephen H. Wilder Traveling Scholarship from the Art Academy. Charley and Edie wed, and then spent the next six months honeymooning and touring the country—drawing, painting and taking in nature. This trip proved to be one that provided life -long creative inspiration for both Charley and Edie.

Charley’s impressive 60-year career as a prolific graphic designer, painter and illustrator brought his unique, modernist style to a wide range of publications. Harper is best known for his unique style combining straight and curved lines and flat areas of carefully selected colors. Through his work for classic books such as The Golden Book of Biology (1961, Golden Press) and The Animal Kingdom (1968, Golden Press), Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two (1958), Charles Harper’s Birds and Words (1974, Frame House Gallery, 2008, AMMO books) and Ford Times and Sohioan publications, illustrated ads for Morten Salt, Libby’s Pineapple and Proctor & Gamble, together with his work for the U.S. National Park Service, Harper brought an entirely new perspective to the chosen subject matter of birds and wildlife, a genre dominated by naturalism and realism. Harper referred to his approach as “minimal realism.” Recent publications and exhibitions have introduced Harper’s modernist vision of nature to an entirely new generation of artists and critics. Harper’s exceptional skill and creativity elevated any book, advertisement or brochure to a true work of art and his work resonates as fresh and contemporary as any painter’s of his generation.

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS


2008
“Charley Harper, Works On Paper, 1961-1970”, Country Club, Cincinnati, OH

2007
“Charley Harper Art Show”, Rowe Woods, Cincinnati, OH


SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS


2007
“Minimal Realism: Charley and Edie Harper”, 1940-1960, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, OH
“Botanical Art Exhibit by Harper Studios”, Lloyd Library and Museum, Cincinnati, OH

2006
“Graphic Content”, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH

Hamilton County Park District and the Hyde Park Framers & Gallery at Oakley Square present the
“annual Harper Art Show” at Sharon Woods


SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY (PRESS)


2008
Birds and Words (reissued by AMMO Books)

2007
Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life (AMMO Books)

2005
The Art of Charley Harper- A Retrospective View, DVD

1994
Beguiled By the Wild: The Art of Charley Harper (Flower Valley Press)

1974
Birds and Words (Frame House Gallery)

1968
The Animal Kingdom (Golden Press/Random House, Inc.)

1961
The Golden Book of Biology (Golden Press/Random House, Inc.)

1958
Betty Crocker’s Dinner for Two Cook Book (General Mills, Inc.)

1948-1982
Ford Times Magazine
For Almanac