T.O.T.Week: art history’s mystery

When I was a student during my study abroad year in London, I had one of those stereotypical British Art History professors, crotchety down to core of his sweater argyle vests. He touted that stiff-upper-lip that gave nothing away but an occasional use of the word “dunderheads,” used to describe either us college miscreants or a modern artist whose work he found unacceptable. Yet the man could tell a phenomenal story, and it was often left to us to determine which elements were true, and what had just become the fabled retellings of the artwork’s storied past. Art can become a storyteller’s dream – because of its static nature, the viewer is often left to create the backstory. Ignore those little boxes telling you how you’re supposed to think my grandfather would say, but let it speak to you instead. It’s no wonder that art is a root in the greater word of artifact – we can look to creative works as a window into history, its figures, its lessons, and its mysteries. I love this genre of storytelling, and while I realize that it is often fictionalized, I take it upon myself to do a bit of research afterwards to uncover more background. I have to believe that this was my professor’s intention, and if he were to read this blog post, I might have received a slight uplift of a dimple, the subtle sign of a job well done that we all competed to be on the receiving end of that year.

The Painting That Wasn’t There: Field Trip Mysteries is an early reader by Steve Brezenoff and Marcos Calos that provides a great introduction to famous works of art while captivating young readers within a mystery framework. Chasing Vermeer is one of my favorite middle grade art mysteries, as Petra and Calder race against time and code to find a stolen painting by Johannes Vermeer. The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald takes us to the Roaring Twenties when orphan Martha uncovers some mysterious truths in the gallery of the Sewell Mansion… that’s based on true events! Finally, I just completed Fiona Davis’s The Magnolia Palace, a page-turner of past secrets and a murder mystery waiting to be unraveled at the Frick Residence. Fellow dunderheads, go read!

The Painting That Wasn’t There by Steve Brezenoff and Marcos Calos (early reader)

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and Brett Helquist (middle grade)

The Gallery by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (young adult)

The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis (adult historical fiction)

One thought on “T.O.T.Week: art history’s mystery

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: