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Michael Bierut on Charley Harper

Charley Harper

Todd Oldham’s new monograph on Charley Harper (1922-2007), mentioned here last February, is a winner in every sense of the word. From the lavish packaging, beautiful print quality and exquisite collection of artwork, the book is everything a Charley Harper fan could want. Michael Bierut at Design Observer has some incisive thoughts about Harper in this piece entitled “Flat, Simple and Funny: The World of Charley Harper. About the new book, Bierut makes this observation: “…it’s beautifully produced, a clear labor of love for designer-author Oldham. But as a tribute, it struck me as somewhat ill-fitting, just too over-the-top and lavish for a humble, softspoken designer who claimed to be unable to draw a straight line without a ruler or a circle without a compass.”

Bierut’s piece also links to this MP3 audio interview between Todd Oldham and the self-effacing Harper which makes for good listening. Folks in Ohio should note that an exhibiton of Harper’s work opened this past weekend at the Cincinnati Art Museum. The museum currently has an exhibit of Saul Steinberg’s work as well. How often is it that two mid-century illustration greats are given retrospectives at the same museum? Definitely a treat worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood.

  • I saw the Steinberg exhibition when I was in New York.
    Anyone who has a chance to see it is very lucky indeed.
    It’s wonderful.

  • Charlie

    You can really identify which art is his. He did alot of work in Cincy. I have a giant poster of his work, and my grandma has a huge book with his masterpieces.

  • Thanks, Amid, for throwing us mid-westerners a bone!

    I’m from Harper’s hometown. I can’t wait to see both exhibits, and I hope I have money left over for the book. So many books and DVD sets out this year —burning a hole in my pocket.

  • When Charley died in June, I wrote up a brief tribute on my blog, with many of these links listed, plus more. (The Design Observer link is new.) Just a FYI.

  • red pill junkie

    I have never seen the work of this wonderful artist.

    I don’t know whether to thank you, or CURSE you for tempting me to buy such beautiful books!!!

  • Anne D. Bernstein

    Where have I been? I never heard of him. He’s fantastic! Thanks so much for this item–I am also tempted to buy that deluxe tome.