You may have noticed that we have a serious affection for paper sculpture here at Total Echo. My eyes were alerted to the brilliant work of Irving Harper via a new book about his paper sculptures, Irving Harper: Works In Paper.
The backstory of Harper carries some considerable design pedigree. Originally a designer for George Nelson in the 60’s, he began making paper sculptures to “relieve stress“. So, as if designing the famous “marshmallow” sofa for Herman Miller wasn’t impressive enough he now has a rich catalog of paper sculptures to boot. I find it humbling that he’s made such a rich body of work using such a relatively simple medium.
The video below features Harper discussing how this simple pleasure managed to fill his home with fantastic art.
His story reminds me of that great Picasso quote: “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” I don’t interpret his work as child-like by any means (can you imagine the patience required to glue these things!), but instead as a distillation of his particular talent, rendered in the most common medium available.