Charley Harper at the Altman Siegel Gallery

Wrenovation original painting by Charley Harper

Wrenovation (original painting) by Charley Harper

If you’re a Charley Harper fan in the San Francisco area, check out the exhibit of Harper’s original illustrations at the Altman Siegel Gallery, along with work by Chris Johanson and Matt Keegan, now throughFebruary 5, 2011. Altman Siegel is a contemporary art gallery focusing on rigorous content in a range of mediums, whose program seeks to contribute to the international cultural discourse.


Above, Charley’s original painting of Wrenovation, one of the works currently on display in San Francisco. Below, the better known lithograph version of the image, also entitled Wrenovation. Both versions were created in 1981; note the extent to which the details have been simplified in the lithograph:

Wrenovation (lithograph) by Charley Harper

Wrenovation (lithograph) by Charley Harper

Born in Frenchton, West Virginia in 1922, Charley Harper studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, where he met his wife, the artist Edie Harper. During his long and distinguished career, he illustrated numerous books, including 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.

Looking for Charley’s prints, books and other merchandise? Cincinnati-based Fabulous Frames & Art is a family-owned business and the world’s largest dealer in the work of Charley Harper, including his 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. Other artists we represent include John Ruthven, G. Harvey, John Stobart, Mort Kunstler, Michael Blaser, and Charles Frace, and many others.

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