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Charley Harper

Country Club Projects

As a kind of midcentury anti-Audubon, Charley Harper imaginatively sought to represent the natural world through its most basic shapes, colors, and patterns: that is, through a style the artist called “minimal realism.” The term, though, is a bit of a misnomer. While Harper’s illustrations and paintings from the 1940s to the end of his life in 2007 are undeniably modern designs, they lack both the exaggerated objectivity of realism and the cold authority of Minimalism. Rather, his delightfully idiosyncratic renderings faithfully represent organic processes, but hint at the fluid personalities of animals. His flat, condensed images make economical use of negative space and line to cleverly present zoological traits: The horns of an arctic musk ox herd are formed by a series of brown arches adjacent to icy white squares and triangles; the eyes and claws of an owl descending on a teardrop-shaped

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