Wildlife artist Charley Harper (American, 1922–2007) came by his love of nature as a child growing up in rural West Virginia and developed his inimitable, bold style while a student at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and the Art Students League in New York City. Perhaps best known for his illustrations for The Golden Book of Biology and Animal Kingdom, children’s books published in the 1960s, he first earned acclaim a decade earlier as a commercial illustrator for numerous publications. As demand for his work grew, he went on to have a successful business producing limited-edition silkscreen prints.
Describing his method of depicting wildlife, which winnowed out all but the most important details, Harper once said, “I see exciting shapes, color combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behavior and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures. I regard the picture as an ecosystem in which all the elements are interrelated, interdependent, perfectly balanced . . . . . . ; and herein lies the lure of painting; in a world of chaos, the picture is one small rectangle in which the artist can create an ordered universe.” For more than sixty years Charley Harper’s work has been treasured by art and animal enthusiasts alike.