The Innocent Eye: Children's Art and the Modern Artist

The Innocent Eye: Children's Art and the Modern Artist

Paperback

By (author) Jonathan David Fineberg

List price $43.53

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  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 239mm x 287mm x 30mm | 1,451g
  • Publication date: 9 March 1999
  • Publication City/Country: New Jersey
  • ISBN 10: 0691016844
  • ISBN 13: 9780691016849
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 178 color plates 140 halftones

Product description

"When I was the age of these children I could draw like Raphael. It took me many years to learn how to draw like these children."--Pablo Picasso, upon viewing an exhibition of children's drawings, as quoted by Sir Herbert Read in 1945 The idea that modern art looks like something a child can do is a long-standing cliche. For some modernists, however, the connection between their work and children's art was direct and explicit. This groundbreaking and heretical book, centered on such modern masters as Klee, Kandinsky, Picasso, and Miro, presents for the first time material from the collections of child art that these artists actually possessed as they undertook some of the greatest masterworks of their careers. As the first art historian to pursue this connection in detail, Jonathan Fineberg here explores the importance of children's art to the work of key modernists from Matisse to Jackson Pollock. Fineberg's inquiry unfolds in this handsome book, which juxtaposes modern masterpieces with the drawings by children that directly influenced them. Fineberg discusses the effect of primitivism and Freudian thought on some of these artists, and demonstrates how they valued children's art for many reasons, including its naive spontaneity and celebration of the moment, imaginative use of visual language, and its universality and candor. For each of the masters who collected child art, the reasons for doing so are as varied as his or her unique style. Fineberg has uncovered most of these major collections of child art assembled by celebrated modernists. Many examples from these collections are reproduced in this book for the first time, together with explanations as to why expressionists, cubists, futurists, and others displayed the art of children alongside their own work in exhibitions of the early twentieth century. In chapters devoted to Larionov, Kandinsky and Munter, Klee, Picasso, Miro, Dubuffet, the Cobra artists, and artists after World War II, Fineberg examines how each artist exploited aspects of child art to formulate his or her own artistic breakthroughs. With over 170 color plates and 140 black and white illustrations, this visually compelling book will stimulate new research among art historians and will inspire museum visitors to see some of their favorite modern masterpieces in a new way.

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Review quote

"The most important contribution of Fineberg's book... is the way he weaves together evidence of modern artists collecting children's art, remarking upon it, using it in their work, and, in some cases, physically integrating it into their own... This is all new material, and very important to our still developing sense of the role non-traditional art forms played in the working of modern art."--James Cuno, Harvard Magazine "Fineberg taps a vein ripe for critical inquiry. The Innocent Eye approaches, with systematic rigor, an important subject that deserves further study; it will intrigue any student of modernist art."--Daniel Sogg, Art & Antiques "In his fascinating, heavily illustrated study Fineberg shows how children's paintings inspired the works of many artists, such as Picasso, Miro, Dubuffet and Klee... It's a convincing argument, but Fineberg also does a fine job of looking at larger issues such as how the postwar mainstreaming of psychoanalytic theory provided later artists with a handle on the feelings of childhood that went beyond the previous 'meticulous visual analysis of child art.'"--Publisher's Weekly "As an anthology of superb child art, reproduced at the same scale and quality of colour as the 'great works on modern art' that stand alongside them, The Innocent Eye is unsurpassed. In each specific case, the child's work is shown convincingly to be the source of the adult's. Both are honoured equally."--Timothy Hyman, Times Literary Supplement "The old modern art saw, 'My child could have done that,' is addressed head-on in this engaging study."--Library Journal "An illuminating and at times revelatory new book."--Richard Cork, The Times (London)

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1 The Postman Did It 2 Mikhail Larionov and the "Childhood" of Russia 3 In Search of Universality: The Vasily Kandinsky and Gabriele Munter Collection 4 Reawakening the Beginnings: The Art of Paul Klee 5 Pablo Picasso: Playing with Form 6 Joan Miro's Rhymes of Childhood 7 The Strategic Childhood of Jean Dubuffet 8 Cobra and "The Child Inside Oneself" 9 Mainstreaming Childhood List of Illustrations Bibliography of Works Cited