I find it fascinating that Damien Hirst is the author of a new children’s ABC book, imaginatively titled ‘ABC’.
An unlikely children’s author, Mr Hirst has compiled a A-Z book for children using his artworks as illustrative material, for example, D is for Diamonds (showing a picture of that infamous diamond-encrusted scull), L is for Lamb (with a picture of that lovely fluffy lamb in a vat of formaldehyde).
Other letters include: A for Anatomy, K for Kaleidoscope, and J for Jaws.
In addition, he has utilized his passion for typography in this book by putting letters in different typefaces: A is in Albertus, B is in Baskerville.
So, will such a venture encourage children to become interested in art? Will it appeal to all parents or just arty parents? Perhaps. I will certainly be buying a copy for my three-year old and can’t wait to see how he responds to it.
The Huffington Post arranged for a year six year old to review the book with some amusing results, including her opinion on W for Wings: “I didn’t like the angel. It is ugly and boring because she is just sitting on a rock.”
Let’s see what my critical, and very cute, little book reviewer thinks.
Rao, M. (2013), Damien Hirst’s Children’s Book, Reviewed By A Six-Year-Old Painter (PHOTOS). Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/04/damien-hirst-childrens-book-review_n_4039538.html?utm_hp_ref=books&ir=Books [last accessed 7 October 2013]
Marriot, H. (2013), Damien Hirst: ‘I felt the power of art from a very young age’. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2013/sep/29/damien-hirst-art-abc-picture-book-children [last accessed 7October 2013]
I’m not entirely sure what I think about this book. As you mention, it includes pictures of animals suspended in formaldehyde, which despite Hirst’s assertion, I think some children would find disturbing. I can imagine letters to the Daily Mail from any parent who found this within toddler reach in the Children’s section of their local book shop. So if it’s target age range is three year olds, then I think it’s a miss.
But then it’s too simplistic for the older reader. It’s not really a brochure or rounded guide to Hirst’s work, and even as a vehicle to enthuse children about modern art, it’s lacking anything approaching a message of ‘you could do this too’.
Hirst’s books seem to be a mixed bag. ‘For the Love of God: The Making of the Diamond Skull’ seems to come in for heavy criticism as being pointless; ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’ seems to be much better thought of, a detailed catalogue of his work.
This book is amusing, but for me is not particularly engaging.
I like it because it is quirky. But I agree that I don’t think it will sell to its ‘target market’ (parents of toddlers) or its ‘secondary market’ (art students / art enthusiasts, except those such as me, art-aware parents of toddlers). I haven’t shown it to any passing toddlers yet…