I do love little books, especially if they have great pictures. They get more points if they are educational, informative and fun to read. “Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained” by British author, educator, art historian and artist Susie Hodge fits the bill perfectly.
A tiny tome, it examines 100 works of modern art, many of which have historically attracted critical hostility or derision, particularly for appearing to be over-simplified and easy enough for a young child to have done.
The author discusses and delineates just why, in fact, your five-year-old could not have created that Cy Twombly chalkboard painting, or Pollack’s poured paintings, or Pippilotti Rist‘s hanging underwear chandelier, though you might think otherwise.
There are five chapters, arranged as Objects/Toys, Expressions/Scribbles, Provocation/Tantrums, Landscapes/Playscapes, and People/Monsters. A few of the artists included: Lynda Benglis, Anselm Kiefer, Gilbert&George, Eva Hesse, Vito Acconci, Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst, Dan Flavin, Tracey Emin, Rothko, Richter, Cornell, Johns, and of course Duchamp, Picasso, Modigliani, and the like, along with dozens more. It’s packed. (remember,100 artists!)
A great little gem to add to your art library. And it hardly takes up any room. (Here’s a charming and comprehensive 2-minute video of the (very attractive) author talking about the book, and explaining how it’s set up.)
When I googled Susie Hodge, I found that she has a slew of published books, articles and online pieces ranging from modern and conceptual art to medieval art and architecture to teachers’ resource articles, including the Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum , as well as books on How to Draw Dogs and How to Draw Cats. (No kidding.) She is an art historian, educator and lecturer, and facilitates workshops in history and non-fiction writing, among other things.
A companion book by the author is 50 Art Ideas You Really Need To Know which covers, incredibly, fifty defining artistic periods in art history, from Prehistoric art to Hyperrealism and New Media.
Here’s my excellent advice: