18 January 2013

Charley Harper and the Exquisite Corpse

Has that title grabbed you?  Have I got you wondering?  Thought I'd share a little bit of book-love with you.  I love a book that inspires and delights and thought you might too.  I've been wanting to share these two books with you for quite some time now, birthday gifts from way back in October.  The first one is "Charley Harper An Illustrated Life".  Charley Harper was an American artist known for his highly stylized wildlife prints, posters and book illustrations.  I love their simplicity and his vibrant use of colour.

Do you remember as a child playing a drawing game where you folded a piece of paper into 3 sections and you would draw a section of a person, say their head, then pass it on to the next person to draw the body and the third person to draw the legs, and you weren't allowed to see what the other people had drawn, so that when it was unfolded you usually fell about giggling because you had ended up with the head of a princess, the body of a circus clown and the hairy legs of Uncle George ... well that is called an Exquisite Corpse.  Did you know that?  I certainly didn't, not until I stumbled across this fabulous book titled "The Exquisite Corpse".

The pages unfold out of the book.  Each artist was only allowed to see the entire page of the one before, and they had to keep the line of the horizon going throughout and take inspiration from the previous work.  Some pages have a natural flow with shape, theme or colour linking them.  Others I've looked and looked and cannot see a connection at all!!

This is a particular favourite link from one artist to the next.  Notice the leopard has lost his spots, and in the next drawing the girl has freckles all over her!!

Hmmm, if anyone has any clues about the connection between these two pages, I'd be happy to hear what your thoughts are!

Enjoy your day!


  1. Another Charlie Harper fan here! But the latter book is new to me ... what a delight :) No idea what the connection is though, except the rainbow (?) carries through and becomes the cloud, so something weather related?

  2. Hmmmm... interesting, the connection almost seems to be opposites; the rainbow (if that's what it is) has become a cloud; the season seems to have changed from summer (flowers on the grass) to winter (bare trees); from daytime to night time (I assume as owls are nocturnal!); And from vibrant colours to pastels! I could go on.... from open landscape to foresst; from large land animal to birds...
    But I'm probably completely wrong!
    I enjoyed trying though! A lovely book!
    Angie x

  3. Those illustrations are fab, haven't a clue! :) x

  4. what an unusual book. I think Annie and Angie saw more connections than I did! different things strike different people don't they?! I was trying to think up something clever with the eyes! Heather x

  5. I've not come across Charley Harper before, so thank you for sharing your birthday present! The illustrations are delightful.

  6. No clue, I'm afraid, but thank you for sharing. What a remarkable book. I did not know that those folded paper drawings of people were called "exquisite corpses" - how wonderful. See, you've taught me something new today Trudy!
    Gillian x


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