Sep 14, 2019

ARTISTS at WORK: Creativity Sparks Reflection

Two vastly different picture books arrived in my mail recently, both sent to me by PHAIDON PUBLISHERS. Their focus is on global publishing of books devoted to the arts, and these are two new additions to their CHILDREN's book catalogue. I will be donating them to my library system now that I've read and shared them, but not before I dive into each several more times. 
Phaidon Publishing
WRINKLES is created by JR, a photographic/installation/public spaces artist whose work and canvas ARE global.
I'd be tempted to classify this book as free-verse poetry. The seemingly simple and accessible text, suitable for a very early reader, can also be viewed as an ode to life and love and human nature. With artfully framed photographic portrayals of wrinkles on portions of faces of individuals from around the world,  every aspect of expression becomes an artistic revelation. Without the back matter, this is a glorious invitation to step away from our absorption with youth and beauty and screens to realize how many stories and how much excitement and drama and laughter can be read in the lines of the faces that surround us. In our agist, interventionist society, the message is automatically conveyed that wrinkles are not something to be desired or appreciated in others. 
One pass through this book proves the opposite.
Repeated passes allow readers OF ANY AGE to dive deeply into the truth of the text and the images. 
Excerpts from
But about that BACK MATTER: 
Each of the pictured faces belongs to someone in the world who participated in a global art project designed and executed by the artist/author, JR. Each photo is reproduced in thumbnail format in the back with a brief personal biography delivered in first person voice, including age and location.
Following those pages is a map and short text describing this art project, in which each photo was enlarged to mural size and mounted on an outdoor surface of a building in their home town/city.
Following that is a short autobiographic note from JR with some photo images of him at work/play with his "tools of the trade". 
Finally, the end papers are a quirky surprise.
Let's just say that if you ever tried to apply wallpaper you'll appreciate those end papers even more.

The second title is YVES KLEIN Painted Everything Blue and Wasn't Sorry, by Fausto Gilberti.  
Phaidon Publishing
 The Italian author/illustrator of this bio-profile of artist Yves Klein took an innovative approach to share Klein's rule-breaking and boundary-stretching approach to art. 

The figures representing the artist and his creative journey blend angular, surreal, and fluid images on pages limited to black, white, and the shade of blue Klein created and labeled INTERNATIONAL KLEIN BLUE. His career and recognition grew from his renowned sense of wonder- at the magnificence of this particular color of blue and at other ways to generate art, including fire, water, and wind applied to a variety of surfaces and with innovative techniques. His extraordinary explorations included rocket design, costuming, photography, and music, to name only some of the outlets for his imagination. 
Excerpt image from
Gilberti also created the picture book bio: Jackson Pollack Splashed Paint and Wasn't Sorry (2019). I hope these are only two of many more to come, since these picture books make contemporary art approachable and enjoyable to young readers.

This, too, has additional black matter to provide further details on the timeline, locales, and actual lived-life of this wildly creative man. His life was cut short at age 34 (heart attack) but he accomplished huge amounts and made a dramatic impact on the art world in those few years of productivity. The INTERNATIONAL KLEIN BLUE endpapers and interior blues provide an experience with a single, saturated color that allows even the youngest readers to imagine how and why "color" itself could fascinate an artist so deeply. 

Both books are a child-friendly square trim size and light weight with high quality interior papers. Both have a vibrance and clarity of presentation that mirror the author's subjects. Both are well-suited to art students, of any age, but also to the youngest readers who will find themselves within these stories and images. Readers of any age will be drawn to return to the books again and again, as I was. 

Both books were provided to me by the publisher with no promise of a review of any kind. 


  1. What fascinating books. I look forward to finding them.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, David. I found each to be entirely captivating and unique.


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