In my mind, the DK brand of non-fiction is synonymous with beautifully designed and copiously illustrated packages of information, ranging from the intricately particular to the more general. That pretty much sums up the Children's Book of Art, released this September. This book takes the reader on a chronological journey that explores art, in all its myriad forms, from cave paintings to graffiti.
There are sections on particular cultures, such as Dreamtime art, Chinese art, and African sculpture. There are sections on particular artists, dominated by many of the standard European heavyweights like Van Gogh and Picasso, but including some artists who were new to me--like Australian artist Sidney Nolan and the English artist Damien Hirst. There are sections that explore themes, like "Gods and heroes in art" and "Work in art."
And there are sections, which I found particularly fascinating, on how to make art oneself. Some tips and techniques I can imagine trying out with my own children (ideas from the section of watercolor, for instance) and others that might be a bit beyond us (how to make blue pigment from grinding lapis lazuli, and how to carve marble) that nevertheless make for engrossing reading.
I was a little saddened by the paucity of women artists (Mary Cassatt gets a double spread, and I noticed that some women are mentioned in the section on Naive art, a few more in Postwar Abstract art, and one in Abstract sculpture; I might have missed others). But, of course, the dominance of men isn't exactly DK's fault...
And I would have liked more anthropological elaboration, with global examples, on the lightly touched on point that art "can also be a meaningful idea" (page 9). I don't think this is explored enough, but then, I'm an anthropologist myself, and this is the part of art I find most fascinating.
But still. This is a lovely, fact-filled, pretty diverse look at art. It's a book that would make a great addition to the library of any young art lover (or art-lover-to-be).
Here are some other reviews, at Five Minutes for Books and 100 Scope Notes. And, in the interests of full disclosure, I received my copy from the publisher.
Today's Non-fiction Monday is hosted by Abby (the) Librarian.