Monday, October 21, 2013

Playing with our perceptions

I love being ‘knowingly’ tricked.  It can take me by surprise or make me sit up and take notice or just be entertaining.

Optical illusions can be like that.

13 Art Illusions That Children Should Know by Silke Vry takes us on an historical journey that explores and explains how the use of light, shadow and colour by artists can trick us into thinking that we are seeing something that is not really ‘real’ or ‘true’.

Besides learning about specific pieces of art by specific artists, we learn about techniques developed over time such as ‘perspective’.   A glossary at the back of the book explains terms such as anamorphosis, quodlibet, plasticity, and surrealism, to help us understand how artists have used rules about light and colour to deceive us.

A timeline along the tops of most pages keeps us on track chronologically. Also, included are non-artistic events such as the construction of the Parthenon or Taj Mahal, the Gutunberg press, World War II, the first photographs and so on, to give a broader historical context in which to place the art work.

The selected structures, paintings and illustrations have been well chosen to demonstrate the various techniques.  Cataract III by Bridget Riley is impossible to look at without seeing rolling waves, a perfect example of Op Art.  Surrealist Rene Magritte plays with our eyes and minds with Carte Blanche and Personal Values.  And, tromp l’oeil is well represented with a realistic ‘unswept floor’ done in mosaic from the second century A.D. and Quodlibet by Samuel van Hoogstraten, showing us a still life of various, seemingly random objects also rendered so realistically that we want to reach out and touch the medallion or pick up the scissors.

This is one of several books in a series that focuses on specifics that introduces middle grade students to art history and seminal, important and significant works of art.

Today is Nonfiction Monday over at Abby the Librarians blog.  You will find a list of nonfiction children's literature.  Enjoy.


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