In our eclectic town of educators, professionals and artists, a book that would be appreciated by young and mature alike is none other than a child’s picture book, Magritte’s Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson.
The surrealist, René Magritte (1898-1967) is known for painting odd depictions like produce and flowers masking faces, nature in unnatural states, a pipe that is “Not a Pipe,” and stoic men in black coats and bowler hats showering down on peaceful towns, to list a few. His art challenges the psyche to imagine the hidden and stretch beyond reality into dreams.
And Johnson’s tribute to Magritte is no different except it suits the taste of a younger audience. But whether or not you have children, this artistic piece would grace the shelves of any home.
It’s one reason I collect picture books, because in and of themselves, they are worthy and moving pieces of art. I don’t have a fancy home to hang works from great masters, let alone, the money to buy such pleasures. But for a reasonable cost of around $17, I can still have beauty where I dwell. But even if you do own a home filled with priceless paintings, picture books like Johnson’s is an endearing addition.
The book itself is gorgeous. The heavy matte pages are filled with soothing and stunning colors, uniquely curved corners and the occasional velum page that allows the story to twist into unexpected worlds.
Of course, there are nods to Magritte’s art on every page, but beyond that, Magritte’s Marvelous Hat has its own creative turns that beg for another viewing and reading in order to catch what was missed the time before. And in this way, it’s a continuous adventure trying to figure out what is happening on the magical pages of D.B. Johnson’s work.
In René Magritte’s own illuminating words, “Everything we see hides another thing… we always want to see what is hidden by what we see.”
The things we notice are always just a part of the picture. There is always more. And in the very act of hiding it, do you realize there is an endless array to discover.
Magritte’s Marvelous Hat is a fantastic romp into the mind of a genius, a creator, a kid immortal. D.B. Johnson makes the journey enjoyable for both children and adults. And as an adult, I am thankful I can afford at least this bit of art amidst our humble home.