A History of Pictures for Children

Based on their bestselling A History of Pictures, artist David Hockney and art critic Martin Gayford discuss the development of pictures from cave paintings to the computer screen. Hockney’s voice is that of an artist reflecting on how artists created their work, while Gayford supplies plenty of solid information about the development of visual media over millennia. Throughout the book, the reader is reminded that art is a continuum: an artist is influenced by what earlier artists have done and how they did it.

There is a big emphasis on the ‘hows’ of picturemaking and on the way in which humans see the world and what it holds according to their own point of view, whether they are creating or looking at great classical art or images on Instagram. How artists may have employed early forms of optical technology, such as the camera obscura, or developed new techniques in painting and drawing features.

Examples of visual art from all over the world, including drawing, painting, photography (still and moving) are here, while Rose Blake’s images provide asides and visual comments on the text. A sumptuously illustrated and designed book, it is well organized too. A timeline in images and words shows inventions that assisted or changed the way in which pictures are presented, a glossary clearly explains terms that may be new to young readers, and there is a list of illustrations giving their dates, size and where they may be viewed. This fascinating production has much to interest readers of eight upwards, whether they are already interested in art, or enthralled by technology. At least one copy is a must for every school library (and home libraries too).