NEW SIGNS AND SYMBOLS IN THE CHILDREN’S ARTISTIC EXPRESSION IN THE POST-INDUSTRIAL AGE

Štúdia 4. 02. 2019, Božena Šupšáková

We have spent a number of recent years on a study and a detailed research of the child’s artistic expression on a large scale of samples. This entitles us to draw your attention to at least two very important moments. Everything created by children from the age of 1 to 2 up to approximately 15 years of age we can consider the child’s artistic expression. It can be expressed either by the non-geometric forms (a figure, house, tree, concrete scene) or also by the geometric abstract shapes (a circle, line, square, triangle and other polygons) which express the concrete value representation. Nowadays, modern information communication technologies have distinct influence on children and youth. Predominance of visual information over the verbal one is nowadays enhanced by the visual media and visual signs. In comparison with year 2000, young people, in their artistic expression, more and more prefer graphic symbols to verbal expressing. It is the result of onset of new communication technologies (e-mails, chatting, text messaging). A new phenomenon is that preschool, younger school and middle-school age do not his paintings now only on paper, usually leave signs and pavement markings or freely on the streets, in the sand, in nature or in digital form – computer or in a notebook. Also on the walls of buildings and concrete fences playgrounds. Young people make up the picture, leaving signs and symbols at all possible and available places - the trees, the external facades, internal walls of buildings, on school furniture. Pencil and chalk in which case confused with markers, paint, spray and other sharp instruments. Artistic expression becomes a durable, leave-on. Today, it is evident that the child’s artistic expression is influenced in the socio-cultural context, multi-medially and multi-culturally. It is changed also thanks to current trends in the fine arts. Children do not counter these changes, they gradually use new means of expression, change the content and the way of portraying.

Interest in child’s artistic performance and its development dates back to the end of 19th century. The first scientific study having mapped the child’s artistic development is the work of Italian art historian Corrado Ricci (1887) named L´arte dei bambini. A year later Bernard Perez published L´art et poesie chez l´enfant. At that time the artistic performance was examined from the psychological point of view and the notion “child’s development in art” is specifically connected with their development in drawing (A. B. Clark, 1997; G. Kerschensteiner, 1905; G. H. Luquet, 1913; J. Sully, 1895). J. Sully connects the first drawings with play and suggests importance of game principles in the whole human culture. He highlights the fact that among the first games and plays there are many which are of aesthetical value. In the field of child’s drawing study, the author restricts himself to linear, outline drawing of human figure, animals, mostly horses. Apart from some exceptions, he focuses his research on two to six-year-old children. The studies of J. Sully of year 1895 form the first attempt at continuous theoretical interpretation and examination of child’s soul, child’s inner world.

Most researchers orientate their research towards the child’s artistic performance at an early age. (R. Arnheim, 1974; W. L. Brittain, 1979; G. A. Clark,1987, 1997; M. Cox, 1981; N. H. Freeman, 1980; C. Golomb, 1974, 1981; R. Kellogg, 1969; G. Kerchensteiner, 1905; A. M. Kindler and B. Darras, 1994; A. M. Kindler, 1999; G. H. Luquet, 1913, 1927; V. Löwenfeld, 1943 and others). As there are only a few pieces of information from a systematic research of adults´ artistic creation (also due to the fact that the adults are not open enough to reveal their inner world through drawing), experts have focused on child’s artistic performance. The reason is simple. Children are not restricted in their artistic expression, they are creative, spontaneous and moreover, they are willing to provide a great amount of information about themselves, their surroundings and their production. A popular German theoretician and artistic pedagogue G. Britsch perceived the child’s artistic performance as an opportunity to express the spiritual unity of a human being and objectively existing world as early as at the beginning of this century. His theory has also significantly influenced later formation of a system for the Arts teaching, namely Bauhaus, H. Read (1964, 1967) but also R.Arnheim (1974, 1922).

Famous psychologist Georg Henri Luquet perceives drawing as a child’s play which does not need a partner, occupies hands and sight and puts the child’s inner experiences in motion in a pleasant and simple way. His theory of intellectual and visual realism (1913, 1927) appears to be one of the most influential reflections and the most popular theories. Georg Henri Luquet created a classification scheme of children’s drawings on which he explains child’s development in drawing as a gradual improvement of the observed reality real re-creation skills. Based on his research, he classifies the respective stages following one another and provides his explanation to them: the first stage “random realism”, the second stage “misunderstood realism”, the third stage “intellectual realism”, the fourth one “visual realism”. His classification stems from the knowledge that children up to eight to nine years draw what they know about themselves, about matters and things. However, older children draw what they can see.

Victor Löwenfeld (1947) also gives the same significance to the intellectual, creative and artistic development in his works, although he highlights the expressive upbringing more. He determines several consequent stages: the first stage “scrawling”, the second stage “pre-operational” with which the first “vision” appears. It is an experimental period with a large amount of changing symbols that picture the world. Thus, children find their new “schemes”. V. Löwenfeld uses this notion to show a stabilized, individual way of picturing the objects at the age of seven to nine years and he describes the schematic stage as a child’s ability to formulate the definitive concept of human figure and environment (V. Löwenfeld, 1947, p. 395). The third stage “visual realism” and the fourth stage “crisis in child’s creative performance”. Löwenfeld´s theory of child’s drawing according to the stages resembles Luquet´s statements in many ways; he similarly tried to prove that child’s drawing reflects what the child knows. V. Löwenfeld also states that a large amount of details in drawing reflects the level of child’s realization of their environment. However, he gives special significance to physical, kinaesthetic experiences of children. In his opinion, omission or exaggeration of certain parts in the picture may reflect child’s current state and emotions. In general, he regards drawing as a proof of their emotional comfort. He claims that children at pre-school age, who always use the same graphic portraying, are “hiding behind the symbol” in certain age and consequently “in their further behaviour they have a tendency to hide behind the social stereotypes” (Löwenfeld, 1947, p. 131). On the other hand, V. Löwenfeld assumes that “a child who reacts to purposeful experiences in a sensitive way will show this emotional sensitivity in their artistic creation” (Löwenfeld, 1947, p. 131).

See more in PDF below

Video