Discovering Child Art
Essays on Childhood, Primitivism, and Modernism
Edited by Jonathan Fineberg


This book brings together thirteen distinguished critics and scholars to explore children's art and its profound but rarely documented influence on the evolution of modern art. It shows that children's art and childhood have inspired major works of art, served as central metaphors for artistic spontaneity and honesty, and provided a window into the fundamental human qualities explored by modern artists.

The volume complements editor Jonathan Fineberg's groundbreaking new book, The Innocent Eye (Princeton, 1997), in which he showed how many of the greatest masters of modern art collected and were directly influenced by children's drawings. Contributors here both expand on Fineberg's themes and take the study of children's art in new directions. They examine, for example, the influence of child art on such artists as Kandinsky, Klee, Larionov, and Miró; the diverse styles of children's art; the influence of Romantic ideas on perceptions of children's art; the conception of giftedness versus education in children's drawings; and the relationship between children's art and primitivism. The book offers unique glimpses into the working processes of great modern artists, presenting, for example, Dora Vallier's personal recollections of Miró and his creative process, and new documentation about the works of the Russian avant-garde. The essays draw on art theory, psychology, and the close study of individual works of art and written texts. Discovering Child Art will appeal to a wide range of readers, including art historians, psychologists, and art educators.

Contributors to the book are Troels Andersen, Rudolf Arnheim, John Carlin, Marcel Franciscono, Ernst Gombrich, Christopher Green, Josef Helfenstein, Werner Hofmann, Yuri Molok, G. G. Pospelov, Richard Shiff, Dora Vallier, and Barbara Würwag.

Jonathan Fineberg is Professor of Art History and University Scholar at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has won the Pulitzer Fellowship in Critical Writing and the Art Critic's Fellowship of the National Endowment for the Arts. Fineberg has curated major exhibitions in the United States and Europe and has published widely on modern art. His most recent books are The Innocent Eye (Princeton) and Art since 1940: Strategies of Being.