From Publishers Weekly
German artist Lux combines painting, photography and digital imagery to create disturbing, fairy tale-like portraits of children. In this sleek collection of 45 portraits, Lux superimposes photographs of her young models, many sporting vintage clothes and hairstyles, onto imaginary backgrounds of painted clouds or rose gardens. As essayist Prose explains, the portraits do not capture the reality of childhood; instead, they communicate something "about the world that children live in, about the way adults see them." The children's faces, all unsettlingly expressionless, are like those of porcelain dolls, frozen pale pink with blushed cheeks. Most of the models stare straight at the camera, their glassy eyes penetrating the reader, but even more intriguing are the photos in which the children are looking elsewhere, focused on something that no longer exists. At first glance, the children look flawless, almost too perfect to be real, but viewers captivated by their beauty will soon take notice of discomforting subtleties, like the stains on the girl's jacket in "Marianne," or the girl's bandaged and bruised knees in "Study of a Girl 1." "Like every child, the children in these pictures have secrets from the adult world, secrets more urgent and real to them than the reality around them," Prose writes, and it is this disparity between the secretive and the superficial worlds that makes these photographs so captivating.
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Apparently inspired by the child portraiture of Velazquez, German artist Lux produces eerily composed photo portraits of children. She poses her subjects, dressed in costumes of her selection, against a blank backdrop. Later she digitally places them in landscapes and barren rooms culled from other photographs. Characteristically, the colors of a child's clothes match or nearly match those of the backgrounds, and all are pale as the children's skin. The children never smile; rarely do their eyes gaze directly out, more rarely do they suggest communication. Seemingly floating before rather than inhabiting the settings, they are to be appreciated strictly for what they are, like the little royalty and aristocrats in old paintings. In the introductory essay, Francine Prose says just about everything that needs to be said to enrich viewing the portraits, but she doesn't notice the album's single image of an adult: a young man with a shotgun, dressed in camouflage and kneeling beside a dog, whose anomalous presence encourages leafing through the book again and again to figure out how he fits. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved