The cardinal was one of Charley Harper’s favorite subjects, and his iconic depictions of the bright red bird are among his most popular images. 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.” Enjoy the universe of Harper’s irresistible cardinal in this cheery assortment.
About the artist:
Midcentury modernist Charley Harper (American, 1922–2007) portrayed the natural world with heart and humor. In vivid colors and simple shapes, his cardinals, ladybugs, and clever critters have become icons of wildlife art. His illustrations were published in magazines and books, notably Ford Times and The Giant Golden Book of Biology. A longtime conservationist, Harper created posters for more than 50 nature- and conservation-oriented organizations. His US National Park Service posters—massive, requiring a year each to paint—showcase delightful depictions of entire ecosystems in a style he defined as “minimal realism.” In his adopted hometown of Cincinnati, his public works are the legacy of an artist truly beguiled by the wild, one whose art was a quiet catalyst for ecological action.