We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2018 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
I borrowed this title via interlibrary loan since our nearest public library does not have a copy of this picturebook biography. I have been seeing this particular title included in the list of children’s books related to art, and naturally, I just had to get my hands on it given our current reading theme.
Written by Natasha Wing Illustrated by Julia Breckenreid
Published by Henry Holt and Company (2009)
ISBN: 0805080724 (ISBN13: 9780805080728)
Borrowed through inter-library loan. Book photos taken by me.
While I may not know the name Josef Albers, I am somewhat familiar with the extensive work that he has done on colour – and its impact on the psychology of visual perception and illusions.
This story begins in a coal-mining city in Germany, with the young Josef watching “his father paint doors as if they were artists’ canvases.” Josef eventually became an art teacher who experimented with visual illusions, glass, and form.
He also had a distinct style of teaching: one that is more experiential, hands-on, and organic in its attempt to capture the beauty in fleeting moments – contrived or otherwise.
What fascinated me, however, was how he devoted over twenty years of his life to studying colours, its varied permutations and its interactions: how it can be muted or highlighted, elevated or downplayed – depending on what colours are juxtaposed next to each other.
While an artist through and through, he had a scientist’s curious mind, unremitting focus, and a desire to see his questions through by experimenting, and creating such astounding beauty in the simplest of things in the process.
This is a fascinating biography of a man who will no doubt make young readers see colour in a different light. Teachers will also be happy to note that there is extensive backmatter, with an Author’s Note, glossary of terms, additional references, and even suggested See-For-Yourself activities that is perfect for art classes. For more resources for Educators, click here to be taken to the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation Website, which contains video clips, audio clips, and transcripts of lectures of the Albers.
#LitWorld2018GB Update: Germany / USA