Okay, after talking about art and book pairings in my Artwork of the Week post last week, I started thinking about other recent books I’ve read and thinking about artworks that could go with them. This post is not really art education for kids, but I hope you adults find it interesting! I’d love to hear your book/art pairing ideas in the comments as well!
Here are 5 great books I have read recently along with an artwork that goes with each.
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A Surreal World
1Q84 is not a book I would normally have picked up, but two of my friends had read it and said they loved it, so I went with it. I am so glad I did. The 952 pages of this book tell a beautiful love story that is filled with enigmas and things that don’t make any sense. By the end of the book, nothing will shock you about the story because you are so used to this fanciful alternate world and its mysteries.
Magritte’s The Empire of Lights came immediately to mind when coming up with an artwork to pair with this book. Just like 1Q84, at first glance, the picture makes sense but as you look, you see it is both night and day. This looks like it might be a place with two moons. If you read 1Q84, you’ll know what I am talking about.
Art Symbolizing Self and Country
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Oh, this book. This book. Drop everything and read it right now. It’s an incredible tale of two women in Afghanistan. Not only did I learn a ton about the history of Afghanistan (knowledge I was shamefully severely lacking), it is such a beautiful, heartbreaking, and heartwarming story. This one will stick with me for a long time.
The art choice is obvious with this one. Carved in the side of a cliff in Afghanistan with details made from mud and straw, the Buddhas of Bamiyan were monumental sculptures of the standing Buddha dating back to the 6th century. In March of 2001, the Taliban proclaimed them to be idols and blew them up. In A Thousand Splendid Suns, one of the main characters visits the sculptures with her father, and Hosseini uses the sculptures to connect the travesties in this girl’s life with Afghanistan’s suffering as a whole.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
I’m sure you have heard of this book. Cheryl Strayed tells the story of how after dealing with the death of her mother and failure of her marriage, she set out to hike the 1,100 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail. I really loved this book, and while I don’t think it made me want to walk 1,000 miles, it did make me think about life and what it means to live an authentic life and be connected with the world and myself in different ways.
I almost chose Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich for this one, but I think it places the man as too big in relationship with nature. He looks too clean. I can’t imagine that guy with his toenails falling off because of too-small boots. Instead, I’m going with Thomas Moran’s The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone (I’ve written about this one before.) He captures the majesty of the American West, but I also like how he has included some people in the picture to show the vastness of nature compared with the smallness of man.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
I like this book, but my favorite part of it was that is was narrated in the audio version by Jim Dale, so I almost felt like I was listening to Harry Potter again. This book is about a magical “Circus of Dreams” that is only open at night. The two protagonists fill the circus with magical feats and spectacles, and Morgenstern describes them so you feel like you are there. This book is both sweet and weird.
I’ve chosen Pablo Picasso’s Acrobat from 1930 to pair with this book. The color theme of The Night Circus is all black and white, and the simplicity and impossibility of Picasso’s figure pair well with the magic of The Night Circus.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
This was a fun, quick read about an eccentric, reclusive mom who suddenly disappears and her daughter’s quest to find her. The mom was a famous architect in the book, and I especially enjoyed the author’s thoughts about the nature of creativity and how artists must continue to create and what happens if they don’t.
I knew I wanted to choose a Cindy Sherman artwork for this because her Untitled Film Still’s seem to connect with the character of Bernadette. These artworks have mysterious elements to them. They are stills in the middle of some other story that you don’t have all of the information about, so they make you think and wonder. Bernadette’s character is mostly told through letters she has written so this artwork seemed to be a good fit for me. Looking at this woman, we wonder what is happening, what do those letters say, what is she thinking, and who is she looking at?
Okay, I had great fun writing this post and thinking about art in this way! I have a feeling this week becomes a series. Share your art/book pairings in the comments!
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This is great! What a wonderful way to set up a book club : and hit up Davis Publishing for a print of the artwork to display while holding the meeting….
And then create an artwork based on imagery in the book…
OK. My brain’s gone wild.
Go wild! 😀