Harper Ever After
Charley Harper and Edie McKee met on the first day of school at the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1940. They studied together, fell in love, survived World War II, married, and embarked on successful careers in art. Today, Charley’s work is iconic, known around the world particularly for his images of birds and other wildlife created with simple—but accurate—geometric forms. Edie’s fine art photographs, paintings, prints, designs, and illustrations have earned her lasting respect.
Harper Ever After presents paintings and prints from both artists, from their early art school days until 1960, when Charley created Cardinal, now one of his best-known images. The artists’ command of a wide range of styles—from realism to abstraction to cubism—is not only impressive, it informs the path each took to arrive at their individual techniques. The subjects they chose to depict are just as diverse. Charley’s World War II scenes, portraits, and cartoons created while serving in Europe as a private first class are especially poignant.
Brett Harper provides a biographical introduction that follows his parents from art school to commercial and fine art success, and his commentary on specific artworks provides valuable insight. Art critic Sara Caswell-Pearce’s essay focuses on the development of the Harpers’ artistic prowess, while Chip Doyle, a family friend, tells his story of discovering long-lost early works.
Harper Ever After presents great talent in its formative years. Longtime Harper fans and collectors will appreciate never-before-seen artwork and come away with a new appreciation of the Harpers’ mature work, post-1960.
About the Authors
Sara Caswell-Pearce is an award-winning journalist who has worked as an editor, critic, columnist, and reporter at a variety of newspapers, including the Philadelphia Bulletin, USA Today, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Orlando Sentinel. She has a BA and an MLS from Rutgers University. In 2009, she founded Paper With a Past, a Cincinnati-based art studio that specializes in graphic design, collages made with first-generation antique and vintage materials drawn from her archive, and letterpress printing.
Brett Harper is the son of Charley and Edie Harper. He is the executor of the Charley and Edie Harper Estates and the director of the Charley Harper Art Studio. He is also an artist.