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MARY CASSATT: Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists

DVD/24 mi1l,/$29.95. Level: Elementary: Getting to Know Inc.

This fast-paced, animated biography about Impressionist artist Mary Cassatt is based on Mike Venezia’s series of books dedicated to the world’s famous artists. Transcribing the content from written form to a visual format, Venezia has produced a very lively first-person narrative that traces the career of Mary Cassatt in a style that is very appealing to an elementary-age, perhaps middle-school viewing audience.

The story is a biography of Cassatt’s life from her childhood, including her relationship with her parents, through her time in art school in the United States and on to her life in France. The narrative cleverly includes the context in which Cassatt’s career developed, particularly the transition from her Paris Salon work to her involvement with the Impressionists, primarily Edgar Degas. The story goes on to explain how she was also influenced by Japanese art and the blooming world of photography. Mary Cassatt’s focus on the subject of mothers and children is appropriately emphasized, and in this case, makes her a very appealing artist for children to study.

There is a very nice soundtrack that fits perfectly with the storyline. The DVD makes use of several anima¬≠tion techniques and the presentation is clearly interspersed with visuals of Cassatt’s artwork. Despite the mention in the ending credits that some of the content was fictionalized, this DVD is definitely a worthwhile introduction to Mary Cassatt and the history of art in the 1800s.-PH.