Modern Art Explorer: Discover the Stories Behind Famous Artworks

Thames & Hudson. Oct. 2020. 96p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780500652206.
Gr 4-8–This enlightening, amusing nonfiction title provides photographs of famous art and plentiful text. Bloch’s illustrations complement the spotlighted artwork. The prose is witty and age-appropriate: “But it’s all modern and contemporary art. That means no old stuff.” Harman presents a biographical exploration with lively language and boldface type. Readers are encouraged to step into the minds of famous artists and tap into their curiosity. Harman asks readers to imagine the creative aspirations of the artists. For example, in the section about French artist Pierre Bonnard, Harman states, “He wanted his mimosa to be impossibly big and blazing—not how it really looked, but how it felt.” A table of contents is included at the start of the text. The introduction advises readers to “feel free to read this book and look at the art however you want.” The famous art includes paintings, sculptures, wall installations, and even bicycle wheels on stools. Well-known artists are featured, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, and Andy Warhol. Some of the artists may be unfamiliar to readers, such as Atsuko Tanaka, who painted on electrical light bulbs, neon tubes, and electrical wire.
VERDICT This collection of modern and contemporary art will appeal to older elementary and middle school readers who love art.

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