An Eye for Color

The Story of Josef Albers

This post is part of Nonfiction Monday

hosted today by Books Together
Henry Holt & Company (MacMillan)
(pub. 9.1.09) 

40 pages

A True Tale with A Cherry On Top

A uthor: Natasha Wing

    Art: Julia Breckenreid
C haracter: Josef Albers
O verview from jacket flap: 
      "As a child in Germany at the turn of the century, Josef Albers loved to watch his handyman father paint doors as if they were an artist's beautiful canvases. When Josef became an artist himself, it was the forms and colors in the world around him that inspired him most. He reduced an image to its simplest shapes: Buildings became blocks of color.
      Then Josef made an incredible discovery: He could alter the entire mood of a painting jut by changing the way he combined the colors! Color could make one shape jump out at the viewer while another shape seemed to hide in the background..."

T antalizing taste: 
       "For twenty-seven years, Josef created images of squares - more than a thousand of them! For him, there was no end to what he could learn about color.
     'I'm not paying homage to a square,' said Josef. 'It's only the dish I serve my craziness about color in.'
     Today, his squares hang in art galleries around the world, showing that color alone - as simple as it is - can be an exciting form of art."   

and something more:   I thought it was fitting to focus on a biography of an artist for today's Nonfiction Monday roundup at Books Together which includes a focus on "art and museums in children's books." As a docent for school groups at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I often include Albers' paintings in my tours when we talk about the impact of color.  I now plan to tell students the wonderful background provided in this terrific picture book biography, An Eye for Color - The Story of Josef Albers.  Although I love minimalist and abstract paintings, it can tricky to explain them and answer the question, "Why is THIS painting in a museum?  I could do that!"  I love the story of Albers becoming transfixed by the adobe buildings in Mexico: "Their flat roofs and smooth, sun-dried mud surfaces were both simple and bold.  Over and over again, Josef painted nothing but rectangles. Long rectangles. Tall rectangles. Rectangles within rectangles - all in different combinations of colors." And, of course, it's delightful learning that the author, Natasha Wing, actually lived next door to Josef Albers in Orange, Connecticut!

No comments: