jess's Reviews > Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life

Charley Harper by Todd Oldham
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Nov 25, 10

bookshelves: 2010
Read in November, 2010

This book gets 5 stars for Charley Harper's life and work, not for the manner in which Todd Oldham curates it. I mean, Oldham's efforts are adequate but not extraordinary. I have always been sort of vaguely a fan of Harper's work, in the way that you take certain aesthetic parts of your world for granted, but I have never sat down to learn more about his body of work. His birds for the Ford magazine make my heart sing. I liked the interviews and conversations between Charley and Todd, especially when Charley talks about how he paints the world, taking away all the details that obscure the basic image. It is really amazing to read about someone who has, for his entire life, worked as an artist. He was always able to support his family with his art, even though that often meant doing a lot of commercial work that was not always fun. Charley did not like drawing women, and some of the big companies he worked for did not appreciate his style of drawing women -- pretty unfortunate since he illustrated stuff like cookbooks and a number of commercial illustrations for domestic products. Anyway, his work is beautiful and inspiring and I want to fill up my whole brain with his images. Also, his relationship with his wife, their creative collaboration & their lifetimes spent together, and his appreciation for her art was sweet. They took a six month camping honeymoon, and they drew/painted every day. She kept an illustrated journal - is it published? I want to know more about her.

Also, I want to get a tattoo of the Charley Harper jelly fish, but my wife seems to be against it. She keeps suggesting that we get a print of it for the wall, instead of permanent body art.
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