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Yoursbyshores Isabella Shores

8 Years Ago

What Is - Naive Art

The term na´ve art is often seen as outsider art which is without a formal training or degree. While this was true before the twentieth century, there are now academies for na´ve art. Na´ve art is now a fully recognized art genre, represented in art galleries worldwide.

The characteristics of na´ve art are an awkward relationship to the formal qualities of painting. Difficulties with drawing and perspective that result in a charmingly awkward and often refreshing vision, strong use of pattern, unrefined color, and simplicity rather than subtlety are all supposed markers of na´ve art. It has, however, become such a popular and recognizable style that many examples could be called pseudo-na´ve.

Whereas na´ve art ideally describes the work of an artist who did not receive formal education in an art school or academy, for example Henri Rousseau or Alfred Wallis, 'pseudo na´ve' or 'faux na´ve' art describes the work of an artist working in a more imitative or self-conscious mode and whose work can be seen as more imitative than original.

"Primitive art" is another term often applied to art by those without formal training, but is historically more often applied to work from certain cultures that have been judged socially or technologically "primitive" by Western academia, such as Native American, subsaharan African or Pacific Island art. This is distinguished from the self-conscious, "primitive" inspired movement primitivism. Another term related to (but not completely synonymous with) na´ve art is folk art.

One Naive Artist

Pirosmani was born in the Georgian village of Mirzaani to a peasant family in the Kakheti province. His family owned a small vineyard. He was later orphaned and put in the care of his two elder sisters. He move with them to Tbilisi in 1870. In 1872 he worked as a servant for wealthy families and learned to read and write Russian and Georgian. In 1876 he returned to Mirzaani and worked as a herdsman.

Pirosmani gradually taught himself to paint. One of his specialties was painting directly onto black oilcloth. In 1882 he opened a workshop in Tbilisi which was unsuccessful. In 1890 he worked as a railroad conductor, and in 1895 worked creating signboards. In 1893 he co-founded a dairy farm in Tbilisi which he left in 1901. Throughout his life Pirosmani, who was always poor, was willing to take up ordinary jobs including housepainting and whitewashing buildings. Although his paintings had some local popularity (about 200 survive) his relationship with professional artists remained uneasy; making a living was always more important to him than abstract aesthetics.

In April 1918 he died of malnutrition and liver failure. He was buried at the Nino cemetery; the exact location is unknown as it was not registered.


More 'What is' posts;

WHAT IS - Painting Alla Prima
WHAT IS - Colour Field Painting
WHAT IS - Dada
WHAT IS - En Plein Air
WHAT IS - Figurative Art
WHAT IS - Surrealism


IMAGE Example of Niko Pirosmani's work: Childless Millionaire and a Poor Woman Blessed with Children.

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David Lane

8 Years Ago

How does it relate to folk art like Grandma Moses? Can digital art like mine be consider any of this as I have no training or art education?


Charles Peck

8 Years Ago

Hmmm, let me guess - Naive?

That which demostrates no exposure to Art and its history....or the exposure just bounced off if it happened.

Wellllll, one could drag the post about what is good Art in here and say it is Art done without awareness of skill.

David I think you would not qualify since you have developed an eruditeness in many other areas and this spills over and is affecting your Art.


Terry Groehler

8 Years Ago

Ya beat me tooit, David...Folk Art should be on the "What is...?" list.

ps digital doesn't count on this one IMB... ;o)


David Lane

8 Years Ago

So you must be unread or unsophisticated to do this ?


No, it used to be that it was a derogatory term for people that had no proper art training so were "not real artists!".... However, it became a style on its own to mean a tyle that is innocent of defined taught style. A pure art if you like.

No, digital does not fall under this umbrella.

Folk Art does however, but will get a 'WHAT IS' all of its own later.


Charles Peck

8 Years Ago

style is not taught - style is the natural expression or way one makes images/ two people write alike - even forgers are caught because of little tell-tale differences the just naturally exude from one's "hand".


Charles Peck

8 Years Ago

the truest Naive Art is children's Art ... for an adult to do "adult" Naive Art is to be deficient culturally.


David Lane

8 Years Ago

so I can not produce this art electronically ? What about folk art?


David Lane

8 Years Ago

why is this not Naive art?

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I'm trying to learn something here.


for an adult to do "adult" Naive Art is to be deficient culturally

deficient culturally? Adults can paint naive style and not be defincient culturally. They just paint naively...


Charles Peck

8 Years Ago

hey we have found an area in which we disagree - though it is likely the way we are using the term "culturally" here, none the less it is refreshing don't you think?


Yep. I think it is the word 'culturally'. In England that word means many things to do with cultured society. I dont think that has anything to do with naive painting. Art culture perhaps but not a rounded statement encompassing all culture and cultured people. It was statements like that that gave naivety its bad name in the first place.

Shoot, better use my disclaimer on this post

The views in this post are mine alone.


Charles Peck

8 Years Ago

Beth I wouldn't wear your shoes if I could. I consider it a sign of honest exchange reaching beyond the surface when your "disclaimer" shows up. Thanks.


David, I think you can digitally make naive pictures, but not because you are naive. After all, you have mastered digital art, and thereby have become beyond naive. Hope this is clear and you take it how I mean it: you're too sophisticated to be naive, I guess.


David Lane

8 Years Ago

I understand what your saying. I could produce pseudo naive art, but I have taught my self too much to naturally produce it. Thanks for saying I have masterd digital art. I still feel like I'm at the grasshopper stage.


VERY well put Vivian!


A lifetime ago, when I knew nothing, but painted furiously, my sister-in-law, highly educated arty person, looked and my then work and called it beautifully naive: I did NOT take it as a compliment....that is because I am/was not ever naive intuitively or in reality, and though she had to say something, I didn't much like the tag. Hope I've improved, seeing as I'm such a sophisticated girl now!!


Charles Peck

8 Years Ago

David you may not have mastered Digital Art yet (it is a life long pursuit - but know you come with all the tools needed) but your general awareness and learnedness has removed your naivete.

Beth and I were starting to dance around this subject - the general understanding/mentation state of an individual will spill over into all they do, see or interact with.

This does not mean mastering neuro-surgery will automatically lead to being a master carpenter, chef or pilot but that awareness of the impact of the little things on the shape of the outcome of any endeavor will be present as will the ability to sense or "read" the whole for subtle/intuitive influence or impact...not to mention the innate knowledge one should read about a subject and get familiar with it before setting forth in it.

Those that have what I refer to as "culture" or some degree of understanding of the humanities and exposure to them... I mean plays, dance, theater, music (all genre - in particular Jazz & Classical), literature, history, science, and of course painting, sculpture, drawing and now digital Art...will know too much to produce truly Naive Art.

They may well produce stinky junk from no skill capacity but their mind will be way too busy to be Naive.

or so I think.

Some find Naive Art refreshing - I don't but that is just a personal response from one who has spent their life pursuing Art.

But that refreshing aspect is the innocence of ignorance - not stupidity - and won't last long in most cases if they have any natural curiousity - they will teach their self enough to no longer be Naive.

I disagree there is a Naive style (it is an individual thing) - no matter what a bunch of suited up clerks type on their keyboards - the other stuff they refer to is nothing more than faux cotton-candy for suckers in my opinion.


Oh RATS! Now you explained it better I cant argue with you :(


Robert Matson

8 Years Ago

Thats it, I give up! I'm gonna go with "Rob art". It is whatever I decide it is and every piece I do fits perfectly no matter what anyone says. :D


Mario Donk

8 Years Ago

I don't think that Naive necessarily means one has to be incompetent . Think it does refer to an element of innocence. Also think that you can not genuinely produce naive art once you have mastered perspective, color, light and shade. I think if after knowing all this you set out to produce naive art that it's incorrectly named, it could be simplistic, minimalist or abstract but not naive . You can't be naive when you know.


I'm capable of painting scenes in any genre or style in which I desire to paint, including 'naive,' because I have mastered the art of painting, but I doubt that a genuinely naive painter could ever paint in my genre, imaginary realism, or anything other than 'naive,' for that matter, because a naive painter would tend to rise to his level of incompetence and no further: aka, The Peter Principle.

Otherwise, these are artists posing as naive painters - hence the expression, pseudo-naive - and should be considered 'con' artists.


Caroline Owen-Doar

8 Years Ago

I just finished a work shop with a master artist... a mind blowing experience. I do like what I learned and plan to use the tools. However, mostly I like to create art, to help me release the need I have to make art in the first place.
Cave art would be a naive art in my judgement but even then with no schools or master artists man would find a way to express art.
Cave art is in all the art history books timeless and beautiful.
( just my two cents thrown in)


Charles Peck

8 Years Ago

Ancient pre-history (written word) Art is not all of just a few French caves and even in the common ones shown in the major Art History books I can easily argue they are not "Naive Art", at least not all of it. There were some very visually sophisticated folks painting and doing sculpture with stone...there is much more than the fat little woman "Venus".

Naive by definition is not Ancient Art I argue - first because of the quality of some of the Ancient Art but more importantly because to be Niave is to be less than your cultural surroundings.


Precisely, Charles. Some would say that to be naive in art is to express innocence and credulity; others, to be artless and unsophisticated.

Either way, naive painting is done those who dwell in the faint shadows of the cultural surroundings of which they are a part, not in its bright light.


Great photo of you, Beth. Excuse interruption, people.


Which one Vivian? OHHH just saw LOL Thank you :)


Rhonda Lee

7 Years Ago

How my direction in life was taken by my high school,will always bother me. I was excluded from art classes because of overcrowding back in 1970. My Jr. high Art teacher even went to the high school with my carved squirrel and a few drawings, to show them natural talent, and nothing could be done. I had 4 yrs of home economics. I can sew and am a damn good cook! (restaurant work FOH 26 yrs). I have never lost my love of art. I will post something different in a minute......naive?? very!


Rhonda Lee

7 Years Ago

I was told this was an artist doll. I just love creating. But it is just a craft doll to me. I did sell all the dolls I made, except this guy. I have a few heads, but hate making the bodies!
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Digital art is something I have played with for 2 years, yet feel I am naive because if I were asked to recreate some things that have happened at the push of a button, I wouldn't have a clue!! LOL

As a painter, I feel am also naive, as I have only attended 1 short class, 20 years ago, and have never had the opportunity to learn more.

It all doesn't much matter to me if I am classified as an amateur, naive, or whatever......I will always love being actively creative.


Robert James Hacunda

7 Years Ago

when I was a young painter and someone who I respected very much looked at paintings and said they where " honest"
I wasn't sure if that was a compliment or an insult..


Vincent Von Frese

7 Years Ago

Naive is a term art historians apply to primitive and un-educated artist's and their simplified works so there is obvious limitations of skill present as in Grandma Moses and many 19th century itenerant painters in America.


Rhonda, I am a naive artist (no training at all, not even a night class, so definitely no art degree) Nothing wrong with it at all :) Us naive artists stick together lol

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Dan Daugherty

7 Years Ago

I am sure that I would be considered a naive artist. How would it pertain to my Sculptures I wonder. No Training in Painting other than a High school project, and in Sculpture, Nothing at all.

Art Prints


Jeffrey Koss

7 Years Ago

I have several people comment on my art work saying it was Naive I didn't know how to take it . I have only been painting a year with no school but I fell in love with it.I know the difference now but I still paint the same.Thanks.


This discussion is closed.

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