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 moreurgent 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.