Lesson 31: Naive Art

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What You Will Learn:

  • Explore All Art Movements and Periods

    You will learn about all the leading art movements and periods, such as primitive art, ancient Greek art, the Renaissance, Romanticism, Impressionism, Modernism, and contemporary art. There is also a lot of attention to non-Western art, such as Islamic Art, Hindu Art, Chinese Art, Oceanic Art and African Art, and the globalization of the art world.

  • All Famous Artists and Their Masterpieces

    The course covers important artists like Sultan Muhammad, Fan Kuan, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Utagawa Hiroshige, Vincent van Gogh, Ilya Repin, Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Banksy and many more, and discusses their most influential works.

  • Cultural and Historical Context

    Our courses also focus on the study of the cultural, social, political, and economic contexts in which artworks are created.

  • Various Media and Techniques

    You will explore different art forms and techniques, such as painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and digital art.

Introduction to this course:


Naive painting was an art movement and style characterized by a naive, intuitive, and often childlike approach to painting. This applied to both the way subjects were depicted and the painting techniques used. The narrative subjects depicted by these artists often revolved around everyday life. The painters had no intellectual perspective on their artworks, creating an atmosphere of innocence and simplicity, which is characteristic of the naive art movement.

De droom, een naïef schilderij van Henri Rousseau (1844-1910). De vrouw die op de bank slaapt is Yadwigha, een vroegere geliefde van hem. Zij droomt dat ze op onverklaarbare wijze in dit bos is terechtgekomen, luisterend naar de geluiden van het instrument van de tovenaar. De tovenaar lijkt met zijn fluit op een slangenbezweerder, maar dan iemand die de leeuwen voor hem bezweert. De jungle wordt door de maan verlicht. Zelf was Henri Rousseau nooit in een oerwoud geweest, maar hij baseerde zijn schildering op zijn bezoeken aan de Jardin des Plantes in Parijs, een botanische tuin en dierentuin. Daar heeft hij de lotusbloemen gezien die in dit schilderij pronken. De autodidactische kunstschilder vormde een bron  van inspiratie voor surrealistische kunstenaars als Salvador Dalí en René Magritte. Locatie:  Dit schilderij van Henri Rousseau hangt in het Museum of Modern Art in New York in de VS.Image: The Dream, a naive painting by Henri Rousseau (1844-1910). The woman sleeping on the couch is Yadwigha, a former lover of his. She dreams that she has inexplicably ended up in this forest, listening to the sounds of the wizard’s instrument. The wizard, with his flute, resembles a snake charmer, but someone who charms the lions before him. The jungle is illuminated by the moon. Henri Rousseau had never been in a jungle himself, but he based his painting on his visits to the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, a botanical garden and zoo. There, he saw the lotus flowers that adorn this painting. The self-taught painter served as an inspiration for surrealist artists like Salvador Dalí and René Magritte.
Location: This painting by Henri Rousseau is housed in the Museum of Modern Art, commonly referred to as MoMA, located on the southeast side of Central Park in Manhattan, New York City (USA).

Naive art and the painters

The first painters who practiced this form of naive art were not taken seriously by their contemporaries; they called the way they painted naive, hence the current name of this art form. This was not uncommon. The Impressionists were also initially ridiculed by suggesting that they only painted an impression of a subject and lacked the skill to paint something properly. That changed later when the art world realized that they needed to take the naive art movement seriously.

Stad bij de molen bij het kanaal in de winter, van Louis Vivin . Het is in handen van een particuliere verzamelaar.Image: Town by the Mill Along the Canal in Winter (Ville au moulin près du canal en hiver), from 1900, by the French naïve artist Louis Vivin (1861-1936).
Location: This painting was auctioned by Christie’s in London in 2020 and is now in the possession of a private collector.

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