September 25, 2014

The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpre

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 1:47 am by suebe2

The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art
by Barb Rosenstock
illustrated by Mary Grandpre
Alfred A. Knopf

As a boy, Vasya Kandinsky led a very proper life. He studied books full of math, books full of science and books full of history.  The regular tic-tic-tac of the metronome guided his practice of piano scales.  Dinner was a dress-up affair where he sat compelled to keep a straight spine as the grown-ups talked on and on.

And then, his aunt gave him a box of watercolors.  His aunt showed him how to  mix colors on the pallette.  When he opened the box himself, he hear a hiss and a trill.  When he tried to describe the noises to his parents, they shushed him and told him not to be silly.

Vasya wasn’t being silly.  He took his work very seriously as he painted the sounds of the colors.  A yellow circle.  A navy rectangle.  Slashes of crimson and so much more.

His family sent Vasya to art class.  There he learned to make drawings that looked just like everyone else’s drawings.  This wasn’t the art that Vasya loved.

He finished his studies and becames a lawyer but he still noticed the colors and sounds that swirled around him.  After attending the opera, he was so inspired that he once again took up his paints.

You’re going to have to read the book to get the rest of the story.

I have to admit that before I read this, I wouldn’t even have recognized Kandinsky’s name.  I know I’ve seen his paintings but his name?  Not even on the tip of my tongue.

After reading about what inspired him and how he made a place for his own art — unique, vibrant and new — in the art world and in the world in general.

This book isn’t nonfiction because the author created the dailogue herself.  This means that although the events in the book are true, she could not find the word-for-word dialgue in the source material.

Her author’s note is a treasure trove of what is fact and what is fiction in The Noisy Paint Box.  As I read the story, the idea that sounds had colors seemed familiar.  Rosenstock explains that Kandinsky probably had the genetic disorder synesthesia.  People with synesthesia process sensory input differently from the rest of us and report hearing colors, seeing music and tasting words.  Amazing that something considered abnormal gaves us Kandinsky’s work.

Mary Grandpre, the illustrator of this book, uses a combination of paper collage and acryllic paint to bring Kandinsky’s world and his art to life for the reader.

This book would be a marvelous introduction to a unit on modern art or an inspiration for a young artist whose work may not meet with the complete approval of his teachers.


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