From the creators of If da Vinci Painted a Dinosaur (2018), introductions to 16 more artists who didn’t paint monsters—but could have.
Once again the illustrator brushes in a hamster docent to guide viewers through a gallery of paintings that evoke the styles, and often specific works, of an artistic roster that gives people of color (Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Thompson) and women (Dorothea Tanning, Frida Kahlo, Helen Frankenthaler) strong showings alongside their dead white male colleagues. The tone is generally tongue-in-cheek—but there are some genuinely creepy critters too, from a surprisingly disturbing Giuseppe Arcimboldo face to surrealist Tanning’s eerily invisible midnight walker. Still, seeing Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks transformed into small rodents, a long, green body gliding sinuously among fuzzy Claude Monet water lilies, undead figures cavorting in an Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec “danse macabre,” or the dramatic slashes of a Franz Kline–style abstract certainly makes the originals approachable as well as serving as points of departure for private imaginings. The accompanying captions are largely superfluous (“M.C. Escher’s creatures creep up and down, around and around.” So they do), but as before, a blank page set on an easel at the end invites personal additions to the exhibit. Capsule profiles of each artist parodied close the volume.
An engaging approach to fine art—but the premise shows signs of wear. (Informational picture book. 5-9)