Bob Raczka is in the advertising business, and the experience shows. His ninth art concept book for younger readers pairs a select image of a work of art--traditional and modern paintings, folk art, photographs--with a crisp three-to-six-word sentence ("America is a Country" with Jasper Johns' Map; "America is Jazz" with Stuart Davis' The Mellow Pad; "America is Immigrants" with George Bellows' Cliff Dwellers.) Snap, snap, snap, the ideas flow with the rhythm of a ten second television commercial spot. Designed for the attention span of today's kids? Perhaps. But slow down and really look and the images are still there, safe and sound on the pages of a book. And some of the choices, especially the photos of Berenice Abbott and William Klein, are worth the time it takes to study them--with or without the patriotic messages attached. Two back pages list the individual artists with brief biographical comments. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
The Art of Freedom: How Artists See Americaby Bob Raczka
What is America? Shape a fascinating image of the United States through the eyes of eighteen artists who have painted, sculpted, and photographed the U.S. landscape and culture. This latest art adventure from Bob Raczka features works from John Trumbull, Georgia O'Keeffe, Jasper Johns, and many more.
Gr 3-5- Broad generalizations about this country ("America is an idea"; "America is jazz") are accompanied by reproductions of thematic paintings, photographs, and other works by American artists. These unadorned statements do nothing to enhance understanding of the artwork, and no historical context is provided to help young readers make sense of either text or illustration. There is no flow or connection between the various pieces; the book feels more like a catalog than a narrative. While the reproductions are large, clear, and colorful, the page layout and the stock backgrounds are visually uninteresting. Brief information about the artists is included at the end, but most young readers are unlikely to get that far. This book might make a useful springboard for art appreciation or for discussion of American ideals in a classroom setting, but the combination of sophisticated artwork and overly simplified text may have trouble finding an audience on its own.-Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FLCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Meet the Author
Bob Raczka studied art at the University of Illinois and is currently a advertising writer. He has written nine art books for children, including No One Saw: Ordinary Things Through the Eyes of an Artist; Art Is�: More Than Meets the Eye: Seeing Art with All Five Senses; Unlikely Pairs: Fun with Famous Works of Art; Here's Looking at Me: How Artists See Themselves; and 3-D ABC: A Sculptural Alphabet.
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