Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre

As a child Vasily Kandinsky learned to be a proper Russian boy: studying hard in school, practicing piano, and sitting mannerly at a dinner table full of adults. But everything changed the day his aunt gave him a box of paints. Suddenly, colors came alive for Vasya, as each shade created new sounds in his ears.

Eventually growing weary of his adult life as a lawyer, Kandinsky quit his job teaching law in Moscow and moved to Munich to be a painter. The famous teachers he studied with didn't understand his art, and encouraged him to portray lifelike depictions of subjects instead. But Kandinsky wanted to explore his feelings through his art and the sounds they created in his mind.

So eventually Vasya worked up the courage to paint what he felt and heard rather than what he saw, and is now one of the most well-known creators of abstract art.

As I was reading The Noisy Paint Box, I thought to myself that Kandinsky's inspiration for his paintings sounded a lot like he had synesthesia, and when I reached the end of the book and read the author's note, I found myself correct in that assumption. Although this condition wasn't diagnosable during his lifetime, based on his experiencing sounds as colors and colors as sounds, it is highly likely he would have been diagnosed with the condition if he were alive today.

I really appreciated learning about Kandkinsky's life and work through reading The Noisy Paint Box because music has always been such an important part of my life, so the idea of an artist being inspired by music and seeing sounds as colors is a really fascinating idea to me.

Whenever a picture book makes me want to learn more about a subject, I consider that a satisfying reading experience. After reading The Noisy Paint Box, I really want to read up on Kandinsky and his paintings. I would love to do what Barb Rosenstock says in the last couple lines of the author's note:

Large collections of his art hang at the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, Musee National d' Art Moderne in Paris, the Stadtische Galerie in Munich, the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and many other museums around the world. Maybe someday you will go and hear them.

Check out Barb Rosenstock's interview with Mr. Schu on Watch. Connect. Read.

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kansinsky's Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary GrandPre
Published: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 32
Genre: Picture book biography
Audience: Primary/Middle Grade
Disclosure: Library copy

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