Irving Harper: Works in Paper
As the director of design at George Nelson Associates in the 1960s, Harper contributed to numerous mid-century creations, namely the Marshmallow Sofa for Herman Miller furniture and the Ball and Sunburst clocks for Howard Miller, and also leading the design of the Chrysler pavilion for the 1964 New York World Fair. According to Julie Lasky who penned an essay for the book, the pressure of work ‘almost drove him to knit’, yet with his skills in building client presentation models in cardboard, he soon eased his way into sculpting with paper. Inspired by Picasso, African Art, Surrealism and de Stijl, Harper constructed whimsical characters and breathtaking abstracts mostly out of paper in addition to straws, wood, toothpicks, twigs, spare materials from his office and discarded doll parts from his daughter. His collection numbered close to 300 when he ran out of display space in 2000. He completed his stunning final piece which appropriately graced the book cover – an owl with glass eyeballs and draped in folded brown paper feathers.
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