Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Children's Book of Art by DK Publishing

Children's Book of Art presents an introduction to art featuring artists, art pieces and techniques. Young and old readers alike are taken on a tour of art world starting with some early cave paintings, followed by the old masters, and finally on to more modern pieces.

I loved this book. The format is similar in format and style to Children's Book of Music (my review) except with art instead of music. Both books are equally entertaining. This book is divided into 3 sections: Early Art, Modern Art and Sculpture. It has large photographs and easy-to-read descriptive text. I loved that the featured paintings were explained and labelled.

There are lots of little sidebars directing the reader to try something they've just read about. For example, Vincent van Gogh painted himself more than 30 times. That page tells the reader to "try a portrait of your own". There are so many wonderful things in this book that at times I had a hard time getting through it. I kept getting inspired by the pieces or techniques. I wanted to try everything!

There are four types of pages in the book that take the readers through the art world. These pages are: Artist or Sculptor profile, How did they do that?, Gallery, Art Style.

Each artist or sculptor profile featured a timeline of their life as well as a list of artistic influences. Some of the artists were well known to me, like da Vinci, Matisse and Picasso. I liked reading the information and seeing their work. There were other artists that were lesser known, but equally interesting. These included Austrian-born abstract artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser (page 100-101) (Nope I didn't make that name up) and Damien Hirst (page 132-133). The pages (108-109) featuring China's terracotta warriors were amazing.

The pages titled "How did they do that?" were my favourites. They contained lots of information about techniques and materials used by the artists. For instance, six hundred years ago, artists had to mix up their own colours. It was interesting to see how they did it and where the colours came from (page 28-29). The most expensive colour? Ultramarine. Other pages included instructions on how to use oil paints and water colours as well as how to sculpt marble and much, much more. The instructions were rudimentary of course, but they still gave me an idea of what's involved in the art. I also loved the pages on making mosaics and land art (page 128-129), which was awe-inspiring.

The gallery pages showed works of art with common themes. I found these very interesting and loved the subject matters presented. It was like visiting an art exhibit at a gallery.

Many different styles were featured on the Art Style pages. Some of these include: Dreamtime art (Australian), Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionism, Surrealism, Street Art, Modern Art and different kinds of sculpture: African, abstract. I loved the stories told on these pages and loved learning about the artists who produced pieces during these periods or in this style.

The table of contents was pretty good as it listed the sections of the book as well as subjects in each of the sections. The glossary was nicely laid out with clear, concise definitions for terms used in art. Unfortunately, the book does not have an all-encompassing index. It did, however, have a listing of the artists featured in the book.

Highly recommended.

For more information about this book, please visit DK's website.

I'd like to thank Chris at DK Canada for this review copy.

Children's Book of Art by DK Publishing, Dorling Kindersley (DK), ©2009. ISBN 9780756655112(Hardcover), 141p.

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