Art & Max by David Wiesner: A Beautiful Book About Art & Artists

David Wiesner is a master of visually stunning children’s books, and perhaps no other book represents him better then Art & Max. An absolute jewel, the story is filled from top to bottom with detailed, colorful, illustrations that tell a tale about the wisdom that can be gained from those who you assume cannot teach you much more than you already know.

art and max by david wiesner

What Happens in ‘Art & Max’?

Art (Arthur) is a powerfully built lizard with three assistants that grovel at his feet whilst he paints his masterpieces. Max, on quite the opposite hand, is a skinny little reptile who is endearing in an oh-so-annoying way. All Max wants to do is learn how to paint; unfortunately, he mostly ends up getting under Art’s feet and bothering him, so much so that he is just sent away. But when Art sees how dejected Max is, he gives in and agrees to teach him a little something.

Max is thrilled. He looks around for a subject, and Art (a bit pompously) volunteers himself as something for Max to paint. Max then proceeds to literally slather him with paint. It is with this action that a crazy adventure begins, one that will lead to totally unexpected events and outcomes, and one that will teach both characters about a lot more than just how to paint.

art and max

Illustrations And The Story

I honestly don’t even want to think about the tiny attention to detail David Weisner must put into creating one of his books, but I am grateful for it, because the result is stunning. It seems only natural that he would have a book about painting and artists, but for something that has played such a prominent role in his life, it seems like it would have been a challenge to come up with a story.

But if it was a challenge, he overcame it with style. Art & Max is beautiful, illustration wise, and plotline. The double spread pages are filled with singular and multiple frames that are dripping with color. Not over-bright, blindingly vivid color, but soft, intense, suffused with light kind of color. If you are at all familiar with Weisner, you’ll know the incredible detail in his pictures, if you have never seen any of his work…the best way to get an idea for it is to see it yourself.

For Children Or Adults?

It seems that sometimes we can get a little caught up in our own ideas about what makes a good book and let slip a little the fact that we’re picking this reading material out for our children. So, is Art & Max a book that children will enjoy as much as the adults that praise it for its artistic ingenuity? I think so. The story, while perhaps not as praised by grown-ups as the illustrations are, is wonderfully entertaining. Thinking back to when I was a kid, this was definitely a book I would have enjoyed, for multiple reasons. For me even today, as an adult, the story adds just as much as the pictures.

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