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When We Were Young

New Perspectives on the Art of the Child

Jonathan Fineberg (Editor), Rudolf Arnheim (Contributor), Misty S. Houston (Contributor), Olga Ivashkevich (Contributor), Christine Marmé Thompson (Contributor), Elizabeth Hutton Turner (Contributor) & 1 more

Available worldwide

Paperback, 304 pages
ISBN: 9780520250437
August 2006
$42.95, £36.00
In his last and most overarching essay on the subject, Rudolf Arnheim encourages us to see the range of individuality in children's drawings and to recognize the child's creation of "significant form" as a way of bringing coherence to his or her experience of the world. This groundbreaking book brings together distinguished critics and scholars, including Rudolf Arnheim, to explore children's art and its profound but rarely documented history. The contributors address central questions of how children use art to make sense of their experience and what really constitutes visual "giftedness" in children. They also cover such topics as visual thinking, the influence of popular culture on children's drawings, giftedness versus education in children's drawings, process, and social interaction in drawing. Created to accompany an exhibition on children's drawings, When We Were Young features a stunning full-color gallery of drawings both by famous artists such as Ingres, Van Gogh, Picasso, Miró, and Klee when they were children and by extraordinary "ordinary" children. An annotated chronology, with synopses and more than a thousand scholarly notes, offers a comprehensive survey of the literature and history of child art from the thirteenth century to the present.

Essays by Rudolf Arnheim, Jonathan Fineberg, Misty S. Houston, Olga Ivashkevich, Christine Marmé Thompson, and Elizabeth Hutton Turner
Foreword by Jay Gates and Richard Herman
Acknowledgments by Jonathan Fineberg and Kathleen T. Harleman

Introduction: Gifts of Seeing
Jonathan Fineberg

Beginning with the Child
Rudolf Arnheim

The “Ket Aesthetic”: Visual Culture in Childhood
Christine Marmé Thompson

Drawing in Children’s Lives
Olga Ivashkevich

The Early Drawings of Louis XIII in the Journal de Jean Héroard
Misty S. Houston

“Animal Sketching”: Aspects of Drawing and Play in Early Calder
Elizabeth Hutton Turner

Child’s Play and the Origins of Art
Jonathan Fineberg


Children’s Art: An Annotated Chronology by Jonathan Fineberg, Olga Ivashkevich, and Mysoon Rizk

Jonathan Fineberg is Gutgsell Professor of Art History at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has also taught at Yale, Harvard, and Columbia universities and is a trustee of the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. In addition to editing Discovering Child Art: Essays on Childhood, Primitivism, and Modernism, he is the author of The Innocent Eye: Children's Art and The Modern Artist, Art since 1940, and Imagining America: Icons of 20th Century American Art.
"Jonathan Fineberg captures in words the reality, delight, and imagination of children's art. He is a visionary, as are so many of the artists he cites in this important book."—Agnes Gund, President Emerita, Museum of Modern Art

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