Acclaimed Mid-Century Designer, Irving Harper, To Auction Private Work For Charity

At the age of 98, Irving Harper is ready to enter the art market. In a gesture of generous support for The Rye Arts Center, Harper has agreed to donate for auction one of his whimsical, never before seen paper sculptures. This is the first time that a Harper sculpture has ever been made available for sale by the publicity shy design genius.

Harper, a mid-century design genius, is internationally recognized for his iconic George Nelson Office designs such as the Marshmallow Sofa and Ball Clock. In his private time, spanning four decades, Harper created a menagerie of whimsical and intricate paper sculptures reflecting all forms of Modernism. His works had never been exhibited to the public, until the current exhibit at the Rye Arts Center that opened in September, and has since had its closing date extended twice due to popular demand. "Irving Harper: A Mid-Century Mind at Play" opened to rave reviews and continues to attract art lovers of all ages. It closes January 24, 2015.

With a collection that numbers well over 400, Harper personally selected a colorful and vibrant snake to be the first, and perhaps only, of his works to make its way into the art market. The sculpture is comprised of hundreds of hand cut paper diamond shapes, encircled within a plexiglass case (24”x20”x 7.5”) that Harper created specifically for the piece. The whimsical serpent currently sits proudly in the center of the Rye Art Center gallery, ready for viewing.

“This moment in art history is not lost on me,” explains Helen Gates, RAC’s Executive Director. “Mr. Harper is a creative genius. The first-time auction of any artist’s work is always exciting, and to have it happen here at The Rye Arts Center is an honor. We are grateful for Irving’s generosity and all that it will make possible for our gallery and outreach programs.”

The live auction of the Harper serpent will take place during a celebratory cocktail party on Saturday, January 10 from 5-7 pm at The Rye Arts Center’s 51 Milton Road location in Rye, NY. Sealed bid submissions will be accepted through January 7.

Details on the event, ticket price, and auction information may be found on the RAC website: www.ryeartscenter.org, or by contacting Helen Gates at 914-967-0700, ext. 27, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



Sculpture pictured:

Irving Harper

untitled, undated

Materials: Paper, Elmer’s glue, wood. 

Plexiglass enclosure measuring 24”x21”x7.5.” Specifically designed and constructed by the artist.

Available for preview in the Gallery of The Rye Arts Center, 51 Milton Road, Rye, NY.


Photo credit: Katharine Dufault    


"Irving Harper: A Mid-Century Mind at Play" is made possible through the generosity of Herman Miller and Maharam.

Exhibition in the Gallery of The Rye Arts Center through January 24, 2015.

For Gallery hours and detailed auction information, visit www.ryeartscenter.org.



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