Artists with Disabilities: Books for Kids

Claude Monet, Frida Kahlo
Claude Monet. Source: Nadar, Wikimedia Commons, public domain. Frida Kahlo. Source: Guillermo Kahlo, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Do you know that some of the world's best-known artists lived with a disability? In honor of Disability Awareness Month, I'm recommending books for kids about a few famous artists with disabilities. Read about these artists, then see their work at the Art Institute of Chicago on one of our Summer Learning Challenge Family Field Trips.

Claude Monet said, "Perhaps, I owe having become a painter to flowers." In The Garden of Monsieur Monet, his love of flowers is clear. As he grew older, Monet faced eye problems that led him to see the world in a unique way. For more facts about his life, look at Claude Monet. To see at the Art Institute: Stacks of Wheat and Waterloo Bridge, Sunlight Effect.

Frida Kahlo said, "Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?" After polio and a car accident, Kahlo lived with physical disabilities most of her life. Younger readers will feel they know the artist after reading Frida Kahlo and the Bravest Girl in the World and Viva Frida. Older readers wanting to know more about Frida's painting style and passionate life should try Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. To see at the Art Institute: While Kahlo's work is not on display, you can see husband Diego Rivera's Portrait of Marevna.


Jackson Pollock said, "Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is." Younger readers will love learning about his style of painting in Action Jackson. Older readers may enjoy Kid Artists, which shares, among stories of other artists as children, the story of how Pollock lost his finger. Jackson Pollock shares Pollock's struggles with mental illness. To see at the Art Institute: Greyed Rainbow and The Key.


Vasily Kandinsky said, "Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul." In The Noisy Paint Box, young readers can get a sense of how sound and color blurred for Kandinsky because of his synesthesia. To see at the Art Institute: Painting with Troika and Houses at Murnau.

Do you have a favorite artist who also had a disability? Why do you like their style?

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