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The aesthetic qualities of children's art and artists response to them

Review of Literature

With the up rise of modernism many artists shifted their attention from the realistic
representation of the world to search for new forms of expression; and while
developing their own unique visual style, many of them looked into children's art as 
a source of inspiration. In 1902, André Breton wrote to Maurice Vlaminck: "I like to
study the drawing of kids . That is were the truth is, without a doubt"(63). What is 
this underlying truth in children's art that has attracted modern artists such as Klee,
Kandinsky, Picasso, Miro Dubuffet and many others, to study, collect, borrow and some
even copy from children's drawings. The poet Charles Boudelaire regarded children as
pure archetypes of "the painter of modern time" who have raw receptivity to find
correspondences between the visible world and the higher truths that underlie it
(Gardner 8 & Fineberg 5).

The underlying truth that manifests itself in the works of young children has its roots 
in the way children see the world, with a fresh eye and a state of "newness. They
translate their visual perception of the world with the simplest graphic equivalents to
create drawings that posses power of expression, sensitivity, vitality and most of all
aesthetic inventiveness. According to Rudolf Arnheim, young children do not imitate the
world they see: they invent it: "if the child makes a circle stand for head, that circle is
not given to him in the object. It is a genuine invention, an impressive 
achievement." (131).

To many children's drawings at young age are considered to be genuine works of art
similar to adult art. Arnheim in agreement with this statement, willingly admits that 
"all the things that matter about art show up in the early years of life with particular
clarity and simplicity. They are simple, but they are all there: the formal factors, the
intellectual factors, the motivational factors, I think it's all basically the same"
(Pariser 182).

Many researchers who have studied child art have found similarities between the
works of young children and those of adult artists. J. Davis has conducted a study
confirming that aesthetic properties of pre-school children's drawings are similar to
those of the drawings by adult artists (1). H. Gardner, in his book Art, Mind and Brain,
points out that: "Before children reach the literal stage, they are very close to the
wellsprings of creativity and that they share some similarities with gifted adults in both
the processes and the products of artistry (94).

Kellogg for example mentions that many modern abstractionists rely on childlike
designs because "child art contains the aesthetic forms most commonly used in all art,
including representational work" (44). One example in showing the similarities
between the works of abstract expressionist and of the child would be the distortion 
of the figurative forms. We can see that in the works of williem De Kooning , where in
the "woman" series, he distorts the figure of the woman by deforming, exaggerating
and twisting the customary shape and size of the figure. The distorted figure, keeps
our interest by arousing our emotion. We can feel the same tension when looking at
distorted figures created by children. 

Feldman mentions that our emotions rely heavily on distortion because "our feelings
are aroused by any departure from what is considered "normal" or "visually "correct".
Particularly with respect to distortion of the human body, we find our attention
arrested and our emotions almost immediately involved" (191). The artist deliberately
distorts the figure, whereas for the child the distorted figure does not come out of the
desire to accentuate the emotional and physical pain of the subject. It comes out of his
lack of maturity, motor skills, knowledge and visual perception (Henkes 71). 

Even though the aesthetic qualities of children's art are compared to those of adult
arti