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Was Modern Art Greater Influenced by the Invention of the Camera or Kindergarten?

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    Does the amount of exposure to conforming pressures of society affect one self’s artistic expression? Environment heavily influences style of art. Without realizing, we start to imitate certain qualities of people and things around us. Art Brut represents the work of people who are the least conformed to and influenced by society. Is there a correlation between the amount one is conformed to society and style of artwork produced? While the movements between the times of cave art and modern art varied greatly in use of colors, techniques, and mediums, they are heavily influenced by the environment the people are in, and by other pre-existing art. Inventions of cameras and optics tools greatly changed the ways in which artists painted and created. In more recent years, the original ideas of very structured kindergarten have led to children growing up to be artists that created pieces in the style of cubism. Modern and abstract art movements grew rapidly across the world during the late nineteenth, early twentieth centuries. Ideas spread and influence others, so what if someone is uninfluenced by current styles? Today, these types of works have been categorized as outsider art. What greater in influenced modern art, the invention of the camera or kindergarten?

    Word count: 205

    Table of Contents:

    Page 2. Abstract

    Page 4. Introduction

    Page 5. Investigation

    Page 13. Conclusion

    Page 15. Works Cited


    My immediate idea for my extended essay was a topic involving ancient art. To research a culture’s art and form a question about how the art relates to something today. I looked through magazines, and searched online to learn more about ancient forms of art and see if I was highly interested in any particular area. While researching my mentor provided me with many resources including 2 books that I found very interesting. Art Brut The Origins of Outsider Art, by Lucienne Peiry, and Secret Knowledge, by David Hockney. I read small parts of each book, and became very interested in both. Lucienne Peiry describes “Outsider Art.” Art created by those who are untrained and uninfluenced by society. The art described in Outsider Art contrasts with the works described in Secret Knowledge. David Hockney researched and displayed the methods he believes past artists have used to assist in their paintings. He describes the use of optics and the effects it has on the pieces, and how a viewer can notice small details in pieces that may suggest the artist used optics tools. In Outsider Art, the artists described are uninfluenced by others, many of which are children, people who are mentally insane, and people in isolated environments. In Secret Knowledge, the artists described are highly trained painters.

    They trained and fine-tuned their skills by recreating works of other artists. They are also described as possibly using tools to create more life-like detail in their pieces. I find that the comparison between these 2 books raises the question of what is art? This is a very broad question, but can be narrowed down by focusing in on a few subjects. Artists under different conditions all create art in different forms. How does time and environment affect a person’s art? This question led to the questioning of whether or not there is a correlation between the influence from society a person has had and their artistic style. Based on my interests, my mentor suggested a book to me entitled Inventing Kindergarten, by Norman Brosterman. This book involved a lot of the ideas I had been thinking about and allowed me to further explore the idea of a person’s environment at a young age affecting their style of art, as they grow older. Does the amount of exposure to conforming pressures of society affect one self’s artistic expression? After exploring many areas of focus, my decision was to greater explore the influences that the invention of the camera had on modern art. While the camera and kindergarten may seem unrelated, they both had extensive effects on artists and have greatly shaped modern art.


    Over the years, has the camera or kindergarten greater shaped modern art? How and why a person chooses to express themselves through art in a certain way or style, is different for every person. In art, and life in general, our environment all heavily influences us. Without realizing, we start to imitate certain qualities of eachother. People gradually start to imitate accents and use slang words that are heard often. People dress according to popular styles, like music that is popular or heard often from others, and create art sometimes unconsciously influenced by other artists. Throughout the world’s history there have been many art movements, each categorized by popular styles of art that arose during the time period. With growing technologies of cameras and tools, artists are able to create in ways that were inconceivable to their predecessors. Artists are inspired and influenced by other artists all across the globe.

    So what occurs when someone is not influenced by all the current ideas and styles in the world and creates their own form of art? The style is known as “Outsider Art,” or “Art Brut.” The term Art Brut was coined by Jean Dubuffet the summer of 1945, and describes works done by children, mental patients, people who are least conformed to society, or haven’t yet been conformed to societal ways. As Dubuffet’s first approach of a way to describe Art Brut he stated, “Drawings, paintings, all works of art emanating from obscure personalities, maniacs; arising from spontaneous impulses, animated by fantasy, even delirium; and strangers to the beaten track of catalogued art.” (Peiry 11) Art Brut represents the work of people who are the least conformed to and influenced by society. Art Brut can be considered almost an opposite of modern art. Although pieces of modern art may be inspired by pieces that are considered Art Brut, modern art has arisen from new inventions and methods. Art Brut is categorized for being uninfluenced by surroundings and advancements in society, therefore contrasting modern art.

    Between the times of cave art and modern art, there have been many movements of arts. Many new movements in art are sparked due to advancement in current technology or methodology. Cameras, optic tools, and kindergarten are examples of new inventions that have influenced changes in techniques of artists. While art movements have varied greatly in use of colors, techniques, and mediums, many movements were based on realistic images. For many years it was only socially acceptable for artists to create portraits, landscape scenes, and works based on things found in the environment. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century that a significant change in style of art occurred. Virginia Woolf made this observation regarding Post-Impressionist art. (Brosterman 6) Paper weaving, squares, straight line, and geometric patterns were becoming very popular techniques. Historians aren’t sure exactly as to what exactly caused the sharp turn and quick acceptance to the new visual style.

    One possibility of the start of the modern art era was the new methods being implicated through kindergarten. In 1876, Ruth Buritt was a young teacher in charge of teaching the kindergarten class, which was very new to America at the time. She would engage the children in active play, singing and dancing. They would also have to practice focusing and concentrating while sitting at long worktables. They would be asked to create geometric designs using small pieces of wood, colored paper, thread, wire and other materials. (Brosterman 10) It is hard to say that an artist’s style was definitely due to their childhood upbringing in kindergarten, practicing meticulous work, although when looking at numerous examples, it is easy to infer that there is a great possibility. Anna Wright was a woman who was very impressed by Ruth Buritt’s work. She had decided that she wanted her son to be an architect, so she purchased a set of educational toys for him that were called Occupational Material for the kindergarten. She also enrolled in a weekly class in which she would learn how to teach the use of the toys to her son. Her son, Frank Lloyd Wright grew up to be a famous architect, and credited the toys, known as Froebel gifts, for being the foundation for his career. (Brosterman 11)

    Through Friedrich Froebel’s gifts, there were ideas that were to be administered to the children. The three fundamental categories were forms of nature (life), forms of knowledge (science), and forms of beauty (art). (Brosterman 37) There was never entirely free play, all play with the gifts was structured to a certain extent. There were boundaries to remain within. Kindergarten students were taught to weave paper, to follow stitch patterns, to create mosaics, and to create specific shapes using paper sticks. (Brosterman 63) The ideas of kindergarten quickly spread around the world. Many children, who had been in a kindergarten class when they were younger, grew up to be artists creating pieces in the style of cubism.

    Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque were both artists famous for many works of cubism. Picasso lived from 1881-1973, and Braque from 1882-1963. (Brosterman 108) Both artists were raised at the end of the nineteenth century, during the beginning years of modern and abstract art. One can assume that their environment and the artistic ideals of society influenced their work. By viewing Georges Braques’ piece Mandola, oil on canvas piece 1909-10, geometric shapes, abstract figures, and both perpendicular and parallel lines can be observed. Braque uses hues of green, brown, and shades of black and white throughout this piece. With the lines created are many brushstrokes that create depth among the shapes in the piece.

    Artist Georges Seurat, who lived from 1859-1891, may have influenced Braque. Seurat pioneered his pointillism style by applying small dots of pigments and focused on his use of tones. By applying only small dots and strokes, he had more control in the levels of contrast. (Brosterman 108) In Braques’, Mandola, a similar method of impressionism was used to shade his shade and lines and create contrast and depth in the

    Piece. An unknown kindergartener created a piece made using the fourteenth gift of paper weaving. The piece was created in the United States in 1890. (Brosterman 118) The piece uses red, blues, gray and white paper woven together to create perpendicular and parallel line. The pieces of colored paper appear to be the same distance apart as many of the other pieces. This piece is can be compared to a Piet Mondrian piece entitle New York City III, 1941-1942. (Brosterman 119) This piece has a similar white background with colored strips woven on top. Mondrian also created spaces between the lines equal to other spaces within the piece. Mondrian created his piece 50 years after the unknown kindergartener created theirs. Mondrian was born about 10 years before the unknown kindergartener. Either Mondrian was inspired by pieces such as the kindergartener’s piece, or maybe he also grew up exposed to Froebel’s gifts and ideals. It is hard to find out the truth of these artist’s childhoods, although by looking at their works later in life, one can observe that they were certainly influenced by the trend of modern and abstract art.

    Another artist during this time period of rapid change in art was Paul Klee. Klee was born in Switzerland in 1879. During his life was the development of photography, which led artists to find that there was little need for traditional realism. Also, many new technologies were created for World War I, new technologies that were causing massive amounts of destruction. During the time period of the war, 1914-1918, many artists rebelled against traditional styles of art and thinking. (Scholastic Inc. 2) This arises the idea that maybe the invention of kindergarten wasn’t the only cause of the modern art movement. While the movement may have been initiated by kindergarten, perhaps the war and new inventions caused people to be more accepting to new ideas. Maybe the fact that people were more open to new ideas encouraged the sudden change in art styles across the world. Paul Klee’s early works involved limited color, and detailed, fine lines. One can observe the influence of society’s new art movements in some of Klee’s pieces. In one watercolor piece, entitled Mural From the Temple of Longing, 1922, Klee uses geometric lines and arrows in different directions. (Scholastic Inc. 6) It seems as though Klee was influenced by the growth in abstract art, although his work is more unorganized, random and colorful than the works of the kindergarteners.

    With the modern and abstract art movements growing very rapidly across the world during the late nineteenth, early twentieth centuries, it’s hard for an artist to not be at somewhat or completely influenced by it. It is what they are growing up with, and for those who went to kindergarten these new types of art is what they are comfortable and used to creating. When people during these times were not exposed to modern art and society’s new ideals, does their artistic expression vary greatly? These works, known as outsider art, are very different than the modern and abstract art pieces also created during this time. Paul Klee visited Italy, in 1901, and grew an interest for Byzantine mosaics. While visiting Africa, Klee started working with watercolor. He would paint landscapes and scenes of Africa using the bright colors and light he was experiencing. (Scholastic Inc. 2) During his travels, Klee was separated from the growing modern art culture. Instead, he was being exposed to natural environments and older art techniques.

    Children’s art was also considered Art Brut, due to the fact that children are uninfluenced by the world, creating whatever they please. Klee was not only interested in artworks from foreign countries, but also interested in children’s pieces of works. Many artists towards the beginning of the twentieth century grew an interest in the artwork of children. Children have not yet been taught by society, the “proper” way to draw or create, children just create whatever their mind imagines. In 1912, artist Wassily Kandinsky, along with Franz Marc, reproduced many children’s drawing and created Der Blaue Reiter almanac. (Peiry 14) While living in Florence as a child, Kandinsky utilized kindergarten’s colors, forms and shapes, and use of abstraction. (Brosterman 13)

    Born in 1866, Kandinsky was still young when kindergarten became popular but did not experience it himself. He had gone to grammar school and only observed kindergarten from the outside. This allowed him to grasp the art styles of child without being so conformed to the geometric patterns and lines that they had been learning. Der Blaue Reiter almanac also included tribal pieces, naïve paintings, and folk art. Kandinsky stated “the capacity to see the world through the eyes of children permits the youthful drawer to discover the inner sound of an object… There is an unconscious power in children that expresses itself here and places the work of children on the same level as the (and often much higher than!) work of adults.” (Kandinsky 251-52)

    It seems as though young children’s minds are formed and shaped to fit society at a young age. If so many artists try to recreate and be inspired from children’s naïve artwork, is it a negative that children are taught organization and conformed to society through school? If every person in the world created work categorized as Art Brut, meaning they haven’t been greatly impacted by society, would the world be back to days of cavemen and early civilization? Although, if children never learned rules and ideals of society, organization and even civilized communities could be lost. While organization and conforming to society may help children to succeed in society later in life, they lose their young ignorant self-expression. There is only so far the mind can wander and imagine past boundaries instilled so early on.

    Works Cited

    Hockney, David. Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old

    Masters. New York: Viking Studio, 2006. Print.

    Peiry, Lucienne. Art Brut: the Origins of Outsider Art. Paris: Flammarion, 2001. Print.

    Brosterman, Norman. Inventing Kindergarten. New York: Abrams, 1997. Print.

    Scholastic Inc. Scholastic Art: Paul Klee Working With Line. Ohio: Scholastic, 2003.

    Kandinsky, Wassily. Kandinkshy, Complete Writings on Art. New York: First Da Capo Press, 1994. trans. Kenneth C. Lindsay and Peter Vergo

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