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Mid-century illustrations of Charley Harper

The work of Charley Harper (1922-2007) was recently brought to my attention by fellow illustration afficionado Tammy Lu -- Harper was an impressive and prolific 'mid-century' illustrator who was especially drawn to natural themes.


The first I saw of his work was in this film by fashion designer Todd Oldham, who fittingly labels the style 'handmade modern'. Though the film is a bit corny, the spirit behind Harper's aesthetic approach definitely comes through.

Harper's magnum opus is possibly the Giant Golden Book of Biology of 1961, whose beautiful flat illustrations can be seen if you follow that link to grain edit. My guess is there are probably many more diagrammatic or instructional pictures in the volume but these wouldn't have made the cut in this little gallery!

Oldham recently created a retrospective book of Harper's work, An Illustrated Life, a bit of an investment, but still more affordable than an original copy of the Golden Book of Biology.