Beguiled by the Wild is a complete collection of limited edition prints by wildlife artist Charley Harper that spans three decades of his career. The captions printed in the book are the original versions that were issued with each print. The prints have long been sold out and this book represents the only published collection of his work. A rare self-interview and introduction by Roger Caras are the only additional text. Each page brings to life an example of Charley's unique ability to combine humor, art, and science. Readers will be hard-pressed to flip through the pages of this coffee table book without stopping at almost every page to learn the message inherent with each piece. Charley's unusual style, which he calls "minimal realism", catches the eye and draws a smile. Often a maze of bright colors and geometric shapes dominates the scene making an initial interpretation puzzling. Reading the caption usually provides insight into the biology of selected insects, birds and mammals, which is often whimsical and always factual. "Armadittos", for example, depicts and inverted armadillo mother suckling a line of four pups in a circle of pine needles. The caption describes how armadillos always reproduce with four genetically identical quaruplets of the same sex (and they live in pine forests of the southern states). Similary, "Jesus Bugs" depicts a group of water strider insects with large circles surrounding each of their six feet, which also form circular shadows under the water. Only an entomologist would know that these circles represent depressions on the water surface caused by minute foot hairs that keep the insects from sinking. This artist has attracted a large audience of amateur and professional biologists who should get their hands on a copy of this book before it too goes out of print.
This is a wonderful coffee table book for anyone who loves animals and modern art. In his unusual style, the artist brings animals to life with geometric precision. The more I look at the art, the more I like it.
Many types of animals are included. There are lots of birds, as well as insects, sea life, dogs, and cats. Forest, farm and African animals are also included. Many of the drawing as well as the anecdotes with them are quite humorous.
Some of my favorites are a raccoon hanging upside down, two whales hugging, a baby harp seal & one of a blue jay bathing. I also especially liked "Love on a limb" featuring two monkeys with their tails entwined.
My all time favorite is called "The Wedding Feast." It features two praying mantis mating. The caption below it is quite funny. There is a nice index in the back of the over 125 plates shown in the book.