Horizontally split pages encourage young appreciators of art to mix and match facial features of 10 classic portraits.
Printed on heavy stock and arranged in no apparent order, the paintings—and the one Japanese woodblock print—are all close-ups that are adjusted for size so that George Washington’s jaw will (more or less) fit the Mona Lisa’s nose beneath the brow of, say, Vincent Van Gogh or Frida Kahlo. Arcimboldo’s fruit-and-veggie Vertumnus, the Japanese actor Sawamura Sojuro III, and African-American entrepreneur Edna Powell Gayle add at least a bit of diversity to the exhibit’s subjects. Stylistically, though, there is a lack of strong visual contrast. Viewers who flip the parts back and forth are likely to be equally unexcited by Lach’s bland commentary opposite: “My cheeks are of apples, my nose is a pear” notes Vertumnus self-evidently. The gloss in Gayle’s voice is positively vapid: “I run a Chicago art gallery, and my elegant hairstyle is perfect for my job.” And, alas, so is Frida Kahlo’s: “I am an artist. My elaborate hairstyle shows my love of Mexico.” Along with further information about each work and its creator at the end, the author offers a few desperate ideas for activities, such as visiting the originals or “any museum with portraits.”
A visit to “any museum with portraits” would be time better spent. (Novelty. 7-10)