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Charley Harper’s Menagerie

by Molly Donnermeyer


Charley Harper , Mary R. Schiff Library and Archives , Library , Hippo , animals

Obsessed with Fiona, the baby hippo? We are too! After watching her grow and thrive at the Cincinnati Zoo these last few weeks, we got to thinking of the way animals and nature are depicted in art. Of course Cincinnati’s beloved Modernist Illustrator, Charley Harper, came immediately to mind. Harper’s colorful, stylized depictions of animals and nature are never far from the thoughts of Cincinnatians, especially with multiple murals featuring his brightly colored work scattered throughout the city.


Harper’s various illustrations of animals and leavesHarper’s illustrations in a book















Over the years Charley’s paintings and illustrations appeared in many conservation and nature related periodicals, and on posters for organizations such as the Cincinnati Zoo, National Park Service, Cincinnati Nature Center, Hamilton County Park District, and the Michigan Audubon Society. Harper worked with these organizations and multiple non-profit conservation groups, zoos, sanctuaries, and preserves over the years to create for them unique “bio” posters and other works for their causes.


magazine covers with Harper’s illustrations


Harper’s work appeared in many books and periodicals over the years, perhaps none so adored as a pair published by Golden Press in New York: The Animal Kingdom and The Golden Book of Biology. These along with other books and ephemera relating to Charley Harper’s work are on display in the Mary R Schiff Library and Archives through the month of March. Visit today and check out our collection of materials on Charley and Edie Harper, as well as many other Cincinnati artists.


Charley Harper exhibition sign