This weekend, Detroit-area fans have a rare opportunity to see the work of esteemed Modern artist Charley Harper at the Michigan Modernism Exposition in Southfield, Michigan. This three-day exhibit and sale of 20th century works of art and design is widely considered to be one of the top Modernism events in the USA, with over 50 exhibitors.
During his long and prolific career, Charley Harper illustrated numerous books, most notably The Golden Book of Biology, magazines such as Ford Times, as well as many prints, posters, murals, and other works. His work focused on the natural environment, and Harper often created works for nature-based organizations, among them the National Park Service; Cincinnati Zoo; Cincinnati Nature Center; Hamilton County, Ohio Park District; and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Pennsylvania.
Harper was best known for his highly stylized wildlife prints, posters and book illustrations. He called his style “minimal realism,” capturing the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible visual elements. Using graphic shapes and bold colors, Harper distilled and simplified complex elements. His nature-oriented artwork is often contrasted with the realism of John James Audubon and the simplicity found in Inuit Art.