And Picasso Painted Guernica

Alain Serres, trans. from the French by Rosalind Price, Allen & Unwin (IPG/Trafalgar, dist.), $24.99 (52p) ISBN 978-1-74175-994-5
French writer Serres's thorough account of the painting of Picasso's antiwar masterpiece starts with the artist's childhood and earliest work. Serres explains the mechanics of cubism ("They painted people and objects from many different viewpoints, as if they could see every surface at the same time"), tells the story of the horrifying German bombing of the civilians of Guer­­nica and Picasso's reaction to it ("[T]onight he makes a decision: he will paint his grief as a Spanish artist"), and finishes by tracing the rest of Picasso's career as he paints "all the beauty of the world and its monstrous face as well." The oversize pages are packed with period photographs and color reproductions of Picasso's sketches and paintings, each captioned in detail, with a double gatefold of Guernica at the center. Serres's nuanced readings illuminate each of the steps of Guernica's creation and probe its separate elements ("There's a man stretched out; his hand is enormous. It's the hand of a Basque fisherman, or farmer, with earth and sea under his nails"). A passionate and intelligent tribute to the transformative power of art. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/15/2010
Release date: 07/01/2010
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