Naïve art

1800 - ...

The history of naive art is both the history of the complex evolution of the many art forms lying outside the fine arts tradition and of the critical attempts to disentangle a distinct strand from this broader fabric. In the course of the 19th century in Europe, the arts and crafts of rural peoples (normally termed folk art, or sometimes ‘peasant art’) and the urban traditions of semi-skilled craftsmen gradually faltered in the face of growing industrialization. Factory products enfeebled the individual impulse to fashion handmade artefacts; itinerant portrait painters (‘limners’) found their trade dwindling after the advent of photography; and in general the rise of an industry-based economy and the growth of cities sapped the vitality of vernacular and communally recognized artwork such as embroidery, toymaking, the carving of ships’ figureheads, painted targets and so forth. Similar developments took place in North America, though at a slower pace, partly determined by a wilful defence of inherited models on the part of culture-conscious immigrants.
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© Grove Art / OUP

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