How does abstract art work? Is a painting of wavy, curvy bubble shapes "soft" and a painting of cubical lines and angles "hard?" They certainly appear to be when paired side by side. The same could be said for an image of rolling blues and whites being "calm" when paired with a jumble of overlapping shapes and colors that are "excited." In this incredibly simple and thoughtfully crafted art book, Willems presents original ink and acrylic paintings of abstract art with a wide variety of shapes, forms, colors, and composition techniques in carefully selected pairs, each with a single question to the reader, asking what a painting represents in the context of the other. The result is as complex or simple as the reader would like to make it. One can compare Willems' clear, linear, bold squares to Mondrian, his loud and boisterous compositions to Kandinsky, and his abstractions to Klee, but it could also purely be a book that asks the age-old question, "How does art make you feel?" A work of great skill and artistry. Grades 1-4. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews
In this high-concept, image-focused picture book, Caldecott Honoree Willems explores the fundamentals of so-called opposites and playfully interrogates nonfigurative images' associations. His tools are 18 high-contrast abstract paintings in acrylic and ink—one per spread but clearly paired—and a series of attendant yes-or-no questions. "Is this soft?" accompanies an image of curvilinear, interlocking shapes in black, blue, gray, red, and yellow; a page turn later, the question "Is this hard?" abuts a picture of the same colors arranged into a sharp-edged geometric pattern. Though early images seem to largely concur with their listed descriptors ("Is this dark?" appears beside a dim painting), some of the pairs—"intentional" vs. "accidental" and "broken" vs. "fixed," for example—are sure to raise philosophical questions about the terms' essential definitions. If expressions such as "mechanical" (the image resembles a circuit board) and "organic" (floating biomorphic shapes nod to Miro) may be a touch conceptual for the stated age range, readers aren't likely to mind. This subtle, mind-expanding volume takes a familiar format to new places while showing how creators and readers meet on a page. Ages up to 2. Agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.
"An inquisitive opposites book featuring original abstract artwork"--Review by Publisher Summary 2
Filled with eye-popping, emotive and highly accessible art, this brilliant introduction to opposites uses colors, shapes, lines and textures to explore abstract concepts and is perfect for readers young or old, big or small. Illustrations.Review by Publisher Summary 3
Mo Willems, award-winning, best-selling author/illustrator and inaugural Education Artist-in-Residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, delivers a masterfully inquisitive look at opposites. Is this dark? Is this light? Is this soft? Is this hard? Using colors, shapes, lines and textures, Willems invites readers to explore abstract concepts through eye-popping, emotive, and highly-accessible artwork. This all-ages concept book is perfect for readers young or old, big or small, or any other set of opposites.