when being naive is a compliment…

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06/02/2011 by Sarah Ritchie

Juego de domino The Domino Players Jose Rodriguez Fuster Cuba 2008

"Juego de domino (The Domino Players)", Jose Rodriguez Fuster (Cuba, 2008)

A while back I uploaded an image of Canvas #12: In the Shelter of His Wings to the paintingsilove.com website for peer critique. One comment that I received read: “Symbolic and art naif, quite a duo! I love it! 5 stars!“.

Not knowing what “art naif” was, I quickly Googled the term and was surprised at the result. “Brutally honest”, was my first thought (still, I HAD asked for feedback). Not wanting to dwell on a possible backhanded insult I did some more research.

I discovered that there are two somewhat unusual and closely related genres of art known as naive and faux (or pseudo) naive. This style has been acknowledged since the 18th Century, though much more so in the last 100 years. I’ll let Wikipedia describe the genre for you:

Naive art is a classification of art that is often characterised by a childlike simplicity in its subject matter and technique. While many naive artists appear, from their works, to have little or no formal training, this is often not true.

Whereas naive art ideally describes the work of an artist who did not receive formal eduation in an art school or academy (for example Henri Rousseau or Alfred Wallis), “pseudo naive” or “faux naive” art descrives 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.

I’m still confused…was my work preceived as “naive” or “faux naive”? Given the choice I’d prefer “faux naive” thanks! There is a Museum of Naive Art, in Paris, so there is hope for my painting yet!


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Sarah Ritchie
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Finalist, Estuary Art Awards 2011
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© Sarah Ritchie 2014

Please do not use copies of my original artwork for profit, however you are welcome to share my artwork images as much as you like!

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