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How does it make you feel? or, Kandinsky’s Synesthesia

19 Apr

What turns a proper little boy into a pioneer of abstract art?


The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art by Barb Rosenstock attempts to show young readers how Vasya Kandinsky went from a proper little Russian boy to groundbreaking artist.

The story opens with little Vasya, behaving properly, until given a paint box by an aunt. When he opened it, according to his autobiography, he heard a hiss. 


The book draws on other experiences that helped Kandinsky develop his artistic style, and the very critical reception to it. And yet he did not give up, although no one seemed to understand his painting. He didn’t care about what they saw, he wanted to know how it made them feel.

The simple but expressive language of the text is augmented by  Mary Grandpré’s vivid illustrations. She shows what Kandinsky must have seen when hearing the opera and what he heard when the colors spoke to him.

The author’s note at the end reproduces some of Kandinsky’s paintings and explains a bit more about his life, including how he likely experienced synesthesia.

This is  great book to introduce attract art, but also a great book about following you muse.

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