About Naive Art


If the state of a nation’s health can be judged by its art, then all is well, from a naïve perspective.

Naïve painting has a simplistic charm and humorous vitality that its sophisticated and traditional contemporaries fail to achieve, and it is created all over the world, by ordinary men and women from all walks of life, who have had no formal training.

The twentieth Century saw many ‘isms’ come and go in the art world, but Naïve art is not another ‘ism’, and has quietly gone from strength to strength in both global popularity, and saleroom activity.

It first attracted widespread public interest through the works of Henri Rousseau (1844-1910), and the American painter Grandma Moses (1860-1961), and this interest has now developed into an international phenomenon, fuelled by serious collectors willing to pay high prices.

Despite regional variations, naïve art is almost always highly colourful, relatively small in scale and uses strong, vibrant pigments, often straight from the tube. Perspective and realism are of lesser importance than packing as much action, vitality and fun into the picture as possible, because therein lies the human ‘spirit’ of the event, or the environment that is being painted.

Naïve artists are ordinary citizens, driven to paint. They draw their inspiration from the landscapes, people and architecture that they know from personal experience. They pay meticulous attention to detail, and are unashamed about dispensing with formalities in their work.

The results are paintings of immense lasting pleasure that can be returned to time and again with fresh eyes, for there is always something new to be found, lurking in a corner, or peering through a hedge somewhere.

The subject matter and geography of Naïve work is as varied as human activity, but there is a sincerity and whimsical joy that pervades each piece, making it universally acceptable, almost childlike in its honesty.

There is no great struggle to be understood, or political issue to be aligned with in Naïve art. It simply stands in its own right as a lasting testimony to all that is healthy in ordinary folk, regardless of their colour, race or creed, and wherever they call home.

It is, after all, art by the people, of the people, for the people, and there are some exciting things going on around the world, which we’d like you to share.

Mister Denham (Founder ABNA) 2001

You can download the Peter Denham full article here