Naïve art

Naïve art
Henri Rousseau's The Repast of the Lion (circa 1907), an example of naïve art

Naïve art is a classification of art that is often characterized by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique. While many naïve artists appear, from their works, to have little or no formal art training, this is often not true. The words "naïve" and "primitive" are regarded as pejoratives and are, therefore, avoided by many.[1]



The term naïve art[2] is often seen as outsider art which is without a formal (or little) training or degree. While this was true before the twentieth century, there are now academies for naïve art. Naïve art is now a fully recognized art genre, represented in art galleries worldwide.

The characteristics of naïve art are an awkward relationship to the formal qualities of painting. Especially non-respect of the 3 rules of the perspective (such as defined by the Progressive Painters of the Renaissance) :

1° decrease of the size of objects proportionally at the distance,
2° enfeeblement of colors with the distance,
3° decrease of the precision of details with the distance,

The results are :

1° effects of perspective geometrically erroneous (awkward aspect of the works, children's drawings look, or Middle Ages' painting look, but the comparison stops there)
2° strong use of pattern, unrefined color on all the plans of the composition, without enfeeblement in the background,
3° an equal accuracy brought to details, including those of the background which should be shaded off.

Simplicity rather than subtlety are all supposed markers of naïve art. It has, however, become such a popular and recognizable style that many examples could be called pseudo-naïve.

Whereas naïve art ideally describes the work of an artist who did not receive formal education in an art school or academy, for example Henri Rousseau or Alfred Wallis, 'pseudo naïve' or 'faux naïve' art describes the work of an artist working in a more imitative or self-conscious mode and whose work can be seen as more imitative than original.

"Primitive art" is another term often applied to art by those without formal training, but is historically more often applied to work from certain cultures that have been judged socially or technologically "primitive" by Western academia, such as Native American, subsaharan African or Pacific Island art (see Tribal art). This is distinguished from the self-conscious, "primitive" inspired movement primitivism. Another term related to (but not completely synonymous with) naïve art is folk art.

There also exist the terms "naïvism" and "primitivism" which are usually applied to professional painters working in the style of naïve art (like Paul Gaugin, Mikhail Larionov, Paul Klee, Sergey Zagraevsky etc.).[3]

Naïve artists

18th century

Example of Edward Hicks's work
Example of Niko Pirosmani's work: Childless Millionaire and a Poor Woman Blessed with Children.

19th century

20th century

Juego de Domino, Oil on canvas by Jose Fuster.
Juego de Domino, Oil on canvas, 66 x 57 cm by Cuban artist José Rodríguez Fuster.

Museums and galleries

Anonymous painter from Pernambuco, Brazil: Landscape
Anonymous painter from Kharkov: Papa Gueye
  • Manuel Moral International Museum of Naïve Art in Jaén[12]

See also


  1. ^ Fine, p. 24
  2. ^ Nathalia Brodskaïa L'Art naïf éd. Parkstone International ISBN : 978-1-85995-668-7
  3. ^ Irina Arnoldova. Painter Sergey Zagraevsky: the view of an art critic
  4. ^ Mariner's Museum and Peluso, Anthony J., Jr., The Bard Brothers -- Painting America under Steam and Sail, Abrams, New York 1997 ISBN 0-8109-1240-6
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ "Croatian Museum of Naive Art". Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  8. ^ [3]
  9. ^ Official site
  10. ^ Museum of Hungarian Naive Artists (Kecskemét) (Hungarian)
  11. ^ Russian Museums online: Municipal Museum of Art Naive
  12. ^ Museo Internacional de Arte Naïf "Manuel Moral" - Manuel Moral International Museum of Naïve Art

Further reading

  • Bihalji-Merin, Oto (1959). Modern Primitives: Masters of Naive Painting. trans. Norbert Guterman. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 
  • Fine, Gary Alan (2004). Everyday genius: self-taught art and the culture of authenticity. Chicago, IL: University Of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226249506. 

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