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Irving Harper: Works in Paper


This two-part monograph looks at the design work and paper sculptures of Irving Harper, a designer at the legendary design studio George Nelson Associates who created still-popular examples of American industrial modernism. An essay by Julie Lasky will discuss Harper’s worklife at George Nelson Associates from 1947 to 1963. During this time, he produced recognizable designs for a host of things from graphics to domestic goods to furniture that are still coveted and appreciated today, although more often branded by the house name rather than his own. Singling out his work for the first time, this essay traces his contribution to mid-century American design through objects such as the Marshmallow sofa and Sunburst clock. The second part of the book documents Harper’s extensive private practice of paper sculptures. Harper has been creating these sculptures for roughly 60 years, and the 300-something works that fill his house and barn in Rye, New York have never been sold or exhibited. Using paper and Elmer’s glue as well as materials as diverse as toothpicks and spaghetti, Harper has created a fantastical array of people and animals seemingly inspired by such diverse influences as pre-Columbian, African and Southeast Asian art and Cubism.

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