The artist Charley Harper was well-known for his statement, “When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings.” Indeed, among Harper’s many wildlife subjects, he may be best known for his images of birds, which were reproduced as serigraphs, lithographs, and giclee prints. At Fabulous Frames & Art, we would like to share some of our favorite Harper bird prints with you today.
Above, the rare serigraph Antypasto (Pileated Woodpecker) features a dynamic composition with strong diagonal forms, and a bold color palette of red, black, and brown. Below, the background of the serigraph Tall Tail is comprised of funky mustard yellow and chartreuse. How mod!
The stark serigraph Baffling Belly is primarily composed of alternating black (and dark brown) and white bars. We love the subtle accents of red and blue!
Wrented (House Wren) is an early serigraph, dating back to 1968, and features a dramatic skull that’s been turned into a nest by a couple of industrious house wrens.
Cardinals were a recurring subject for Charley, and the charming lithograph Homecoming shows a cardinal couple in front of their bird house.
In the serigraph The Last Sunflower Seed, cardinals battle with each other for one last bit of food.
The serigraph Bittern Suite shows a family of bitterns, which are wading birds in the heron family.
Round Robin is an unusually colored serigraph, using shades of greyish lavender and rusty red, with touches of bright yellow.
The small, hard-to-find serigraph Best Dressed (Wood Duck) is a graphic tour de force with a strongly symmetrical composition that’s broken only by the duck’s head. The rich colors give a regal presence to the bird in the water.
Skimmerscape is a large serigraph featuring repeating bird forms, one catching a small fish in its beak. We love these kinds of moments in Charley’s work, which capture both a bit of whimsy and something intrinsic to the bird that’s depicted.
The largely symmetrical lithograph Upside Downside with a restrained, mostly grey color palette and accents of red and blue.
Provocative Plumage, a giclee print, is a cornucopia of vivid color.
The charming lithograph Chickadee Calisthenics features bold geometry in a limited, stark color palette.
Blue Jay Patrol is a lithograph with mostly muted colors.
So, those are just some of our favorite Harper prints. What are yours?
During his long and distinguished career, Charley Harper illustrated numerous books, most notably The Golden Book of Biology and Betty Crocker’s Cooking for Two, 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.
Cincinnati-based Fabulous Frames & Art is a family-owned business and the world’s largest dealer in the work of Charley Harper, including books, serigraphs, lithographs, giclee prints, and posters. We are proud to also carry work by Charley’s wife Edie Harper and their son Brett Harper.