David Wiesner and the Art of Wordless Storytelling

Eik Kahng et al. Santa Barbara Museum of Art (Yale Univ., dist.), $29.95 (125p) ISBN 978-0-300-22601-0
This exhibition catalog from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art offers splendid reproductions of paintings by Wiesner, whose wordless picture books have won three Caldecott Medals. In a candid, wide-ranging interview, Wiesner discusses the artists who have influenced his work—including Little Nemo creator Winsor McKay, Marvel comic artist Jim Steranko, and Depression-era illustrator Lynd Ward—and the significance of telling a story wordlessly. “By removing the text,” he says, “I am removing the author’s voice. This lets each reader tell the story in their own voice.” Wiesner talks also about the technical aspects of his paintings: using multiple layers of watercolor wash to add volume to figures, and making models and architectural maquettes to work out how to represent imagined forms. Additional essays by Kahng and Roeder are informative but dryer in tone. Reproductions of Wiesner’s work include early art-school experiments and thumbnails as well as images from his books. They’re photographed with “raking light” (Kahng’s phrase), highlighting the tooth of the watercolor paper and the works as paintings, so that even his best-known images look fresh. Color illus. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/06/2017
Release date: 03/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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