Kunstverein Hamburg presents exhibition with works by American graphic designer Charley Harper

Kunstverein Hamburg presents exhibition with works by American graphic designer Charley Harper on view through January, 8, 2012.


Charley Harper, “The Name is Puffin,” 1971. © Charley Harper Art Studio

Kunstverein Hamburg goes Berlin: On invitation by the Volksbühne the Kunstverein Hamburg curates an exhibition with works of the American graphic designer Charley Harper at the pavilion at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin. The exhibition presents a collection of app. 35 works that had been shown at the Kunstverein Hamburg in Summer 2011.

Birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, fish, the artwork of wildlife artist Charley Harper (1922 –2007) is a visual ecosystem in which elements of colour, shapes, lines and subjects are interrelated, interdependent and perfectly balanced. Harper had an unique ability to capture the essence of any living organism. His works still challenges our previous perceptions of nature, and offers a new and unexpected way to enjoy it, both visually and verbally. In a style he called “minimal realism”, Charley Harper captured the essence of his subjects with the fewest possible visual elements. As an artist, he was less interested in creating the illusion of dimension than he was in capturing the infinite patterns and designs of nature. Unlike traditional super realistic wildlife art, his is flat, simple, playful and funny. When asked once to describe his unique visual style, he responded: “When I look at a wildlife or nature subject, I don’t see the feathers in the wings, I just count the wings. I see exciting shapes, colour combinations, patterns, textures, fascinating behaviour and endless possibilities for making interesting pictures.”

The American painter and graphic designer Charley Harper (1922–2007) is well known for his detailed and geometrically determined illustrations, prints and posters showing motifs from flora and fauna. His works combine nature-oriented realism, impacts from cubism and minimalism to an independent visual language. His motives are reduced to the very essential, to the main characteristic. But to abstract form and figure leads to an increase and an accentuation of their identity: “I never count the feathers in the wings—I just count the wings.” Harpers screen prints are characterized by this simultaneous idea of simplicity and the variety of forms that create a distinctive universe. Sometimes his compositions appear as geometrical hidden object pictures revealing animals and plants not until the second glance. His almost scientific design generates an intergenerational attraction through their catchy and fascinating language that is not only attractive to kids. Showing his work for the first time in Germany the exhibition at Kunstverein Hamburg assembles more than 60 screen prints of Charley Harper’s colorful wildlife.

The exhibition of Henning Bohl is funded by Hamburgische Kulturstiftung. The Kunstverein Hamburg is funded by Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg – Kulturbehörde. – www.kunstverein.de

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