'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Sunday 8 August 2010

Review: The Art Book for Children

There's never a special occasion needed to expose children to the great masters of art, and this glorious book from Phaidon takes art education to a whole new level, providing not only a glimpse at some pretty astonishing and famous work but also offering practical, educational (and fun!) ways kids can saturated themselves in the scent of 15th century oils and 20th century pastels.

The Art Book for Children covers 30 great artists from Leonardo da Vinci to Andy Warhol, exploring their work through a series of observations and visual commentary. Beginning with Giuseppe Arcimboldo's Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter series (1573), children are invited to explore the reasoning behind the artists image construction - the fact that the four male portraits are comprised completely of vegetables, fruit and plants.

Not only can children explore the differing vegetation according to season (cherries and peaches for simmer, ivy and bare wood for winter) but they can also consider how they would create portraits from everyday objects - perhaps using nuts and bolts for a mechanic's portrait and envelopes and stamps for the portrait of a postman.

Other pieces covered in the book include splatter paintings by Jackson Pollock (exploring the emotion behind such work), the mystery of the Mona Lisa's smile, Bridget Riley's amazing 'moving pictures' and sculptural art such as Christo and Jeanne-Claude's incredible The Pont Neuf Wrapped - where 300 workers took over 40,000 metres of rope and wrapped the Pont Neuf bridge in Paris. Did you know this talented duo also wrapped 92,900 square metres of Australian coastline and encased the ocean surrounding 9 islands in the Bay of Biscayne (Florida) in pink nylon?

This amazing book is a priceless addition for schools and also for home... kids will love working through each artist, learning more about their processes and creations, and will thoroughly enjoy taking on the suggestions to think and perform along the same lines as this fine collection of extraodinary talent.

Exceedingly unpretentious, fascinating and beautifully done, if you want kids to think outside the square, this The Art Book for Children will certainly do it. My only criticism of this book would be that it's not ten times the size. More, please.

Title: The Art Book for Children
Author: Editors of Phaidon Press
Publisher: Phaidon, $29.95RRP
Format: Hard cover
ISBN: 9780714845111
For ages: 7+
Type: Information Book