CITY BY NUMBERS by Stephen T. Johnson


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In this wordless companion to Alphabet City (1995), Johnson joins the likes of Tana Hoban, Arlene Alda, and Donald Crews in his attraction to the numbers, letters, shapes, and compositions found in the architecture and infrastructures of outdoor places and public spaces. Paintings show numerals 1-21 that are camouflaged by the urban cityscapes in which they exist. Discovering each number is an exercise in visual literacy: 4 is found in the lines of the Manhattan Bridge at sunset, 8 is formed by the round rims of adjoining trash bins, a 15 hides in the cracked mortar between bricks. Some numbers occur in the lines, curves, and curlicues of existing architecture, such as an iron gate, a fire escape, a cornice; others are created by negative space, for example, between stones on a snowy walkway or in the scraped surface and papery patches of a building's peeling paint. The subjects are similar to those found in the first book, although the colors, this time, are wintry and more somber. Children will relish the game of locating numbers, while adults will pause over Johnson's deliberate use of shape and color to influence mood.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0140566368
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Viking