Frank Macoy ( Mac ) Harshberger

Frank Macoy ( Mac ) Harshberger
1900 – 1975

Mac Harshberger was a highly successful illustrator who is best known for his elegant, simplified forms in which positive and negative shapes are equally important and economy of line is the rule. The drawings done in this mode were mostly executed in the 1920’s and 30’s after he had studied with Maurice Denis in Paris. Denis was associated with Les Nabis and helped to develop a rationale for visual abstraction. He was the first artist to write about the need to respect the flatness of the picture plane in developing design. His influence was important to Mac Harshberger’s development as an artist and, ultimately, Harshberger’s success in popularizing the sophisticated Art Deco style in the United States.

Harshberger worked in other illustration styles also. This later drawing, dated 1947, still shows the economy of line but was obviously meant to communicate to a different public, possibly children.

He taught for many years at the Pratt Institute in New York and was a prodigious designer and artist. Numerous exhibitions of his drawings and jewelry designs were held including those at the National Gallery of Art, The San Francisco Legion of Honor, and the Wolfsonian Museum in Florida. A book was published about his art: An Elegance of Line- the Graphic Work of Mac Harshberger.

“The Lepidopterist”
ink and watercolorpaper size 9” x 14”