The Art of Margo Herr
I first discovered Margo Herr’s artwork through my friend, Paul Garson. A book he wrote, published in 1973, had a cover designed by Margo. The book, The Great Quill, was his first novel—a science fiction story published by Doubleday. When he decided to publish the book again as an ebook, he wanted to use the same cover art. I did some research and discovered that Margo Herr had designed the covers of dozens of books over the years. I contacted Kate Misset, the woman who runs the Margo Herr website, and received permission to use the artwork again. Below are some more great examples of Margo’s art and design work. She had a definite style all her own, and the work still holds up today. Margo passed away in 2005.
Margo Herr focused on forms that were personal metaphors for change and the inner spiritual journey. Her work traces the development of symbolic imagery from early road paintings past standing stones which disintegrate into melon slices which transform into boats. Although her paintings derive from different objects, her work was always a balance of pure abstraction and identifiable subject matter. She didn’t feel she had to choose.
Poised between these two ideas she expressed the mystery of forms that inspired her through the intensity of her painting technique. By repeatedly applying, scraping, and layering paint, gold leaf, metallic oils, and varnishes, Margo released the mysterious inner energy of images, ever seemingly as unchanging as stones. Her study of Carl Gustav Jung led to a fascination with symbolism and iconography that culminated in the depiction of Egyptian sailing vessels that carried the soul from life to death.
Her use of watercolor, collage, and typography in her book jacket designs led to the continual reappearance of these same techniques in her paintings and drawings, epitomized by the joyful exploration of transformations in nature in her flower series.
Margo said, “Nature is the source of everything I desire to make. At its best it is the thing itself (a flower, stone, road, or landscape) made by me—imbued with the extra feelings that I cannot place in the world in any other way.”
by Kate Missett & Tommy Miller
Margo Herr was born in Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1937 and grew up in the Midwest. She studied painting with Ruben Tam at the Brooklyn Museum School and received her BFA and MFA degrees from Syracuse University.
Her paintings have been exhibited at the Brooke Alexander Gallery, 55 Mercer Street, Smith Barney, C.W. Post College, and Parsons school of Design.
She was an art director at Doubleday & Co., Harper Collins, and Macmillan; designed book jackets for the Beacon Press, E. P. Dutton, Schocken, and time life; and taught at Temple University, Hunter College, Pratt Institute, and Parsons School of Design.
She received grants and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland, Yaddo Foundation, American Institute of Graphic Arts, Art Directors Club of New York, and Society of Illustrators.
She died in New York in 2005.
SEE MORE WORK BY MARGO HERR