Faux Naïf

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“Children also have artistic ability, and there is wisdom in their having it! The more helpless they are, the more instructive are the examples they furnish us.” —Paul Klee

In the early 20th century, artists like Paul Klee sought to transcend art's conventional notions of beauty by returning to a supposedly primal mode of visual expression. Klee employed the simplified forms found in the art of children and people with mental disorders in search of an authentic experience untainted by contemporary society. This strategy can be called “faux naïf,” from the French for “falsely naïve.” Since Klee, many artists have pursued the unmediated expression of creativity by eschewing traditional painting techniques like linear perspective and naturalism. In Europe in the 1950s, the Art Informel movement embraced an intuitive and painterly mode of abstraction. More recently, artists like Tal R and Jules de Balincourt have addressed the modernist search for authenticity by adopting a childlike style.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019