Childishness in Art

In the sunny season I like to get out and watch the children playing. I do it several times a week, and for about 90 minutes each time. I like the children´s movements and strange attractors, their unrepeated, chaotic cycles. Look how they´re doing something and immediately afterwards something else, as some other thing comes to their mind: wow, what an organic flow! And regardless of what they´re doing, they´re all anchored, resting in themselves, immersed in themselves, undistracted, unalienated. The actions of children are graceful and charming as, unmitigated, they act out of themselves and within themselves, with what they´re doing they seem to realise the full potential of the action and the full potential of the moment the action is situated. Nothing is hidden, everything is there! Kids playing signify emergence and full immersion into themselves; immanence so complete that it is somehow transcendent and unreachable to man. Kids playing are fully identical with what they´re doing and they´re fully identical with themselves. Children (in their explorative drive) are Spinozians, says Deleuze (referring to Deleuze again we can also say that they permanently fold and unfold – and that´s what Deleuze says life and existence is all about). – Blobb is at the water dispenser and produces a water bomb, something our children like to do! Little Leyla comes around and wants her flask to be filled, and four year old Sara helps her! Aynur and Aybüke and a couple of other children use the seesaw! Looking from my book up again I see how Mucahit has invented a running game, that after a while will transform into some other activity! Ines uses her scooter! Dinah marches around with her toy buggy! Hatice stands there and eats her sweets with a gaze that symbolises everything and nothing (i.e. complete immanence)! Three year old Benko and two year old Bim drive in an electric toy Ferrari over the place, undirected, meaningful, Bim all Benko´s Ferrari Bride! After a while they need to change and hand over the Ferrari to other children. Deprived of it, Bim starts to cry. Quickly, her mother gives her a tricycle and she is happy again and makes her rounds again, now with the tricycle! – The child and the genius are alike, and natural allies, in a world ruled, and distorted, by grown-ups. They symbolise the creative force, the elementary, ruthless drive of life, that triumphs over unworthiness, oblivion and obliteration. They´re uncontaminated and anti-entropic. In their clumsy movements they are graceful and the most elegant of men. In their squeaky voices, they sing like the sirens. It is good, warms the heart, uplifts the soul to see how they´re spontaneously cooperating. How their meta-choreographic patterns emerge and transform, or suddenly collapse just to give rise for something new and unexpected. That is, then, the grand scheme. – Indeed, I like to watch the scenery, the grand scheme at the market, the colourful immigrants from the lazy countries from the south, and the self-contained children. The unagitated, quasi-relaxed activity and atmosphere within which things are permanently in innocent motion. I find that meditative. It is extremely balanced and everything has its place in it. Heaven must look like this. It is the quietiv, and probably a vision of the White Lodge. It is, at any rate, exactly what the inside of my mind and of my self looks like. As I stare at this outside, I stare in my inside. Hence the immersion. Ubi bene, ibi patria.

The child embodies origin, authenticity, warmth, playfulness, innocence, relaunch and the choice of a new generation. The child is art. In art you have from time to time direct references to the child respectively its spirit, usually when the stupid grown-ups have failed again. In Dadaism, for instance. After WW2 in Art Informel and in Art Brut. Both significantly relate to Jean Dubuffet. Dubuffet tried to re/discover innocence and presuppositionlessness in art, and longed for access to the raw imagination/experience. He related to the unconscious, yet not in the sense of delirious association, as you have it in surrealism, but rather in automatism and rawness and the uncoditionality of the (artistic) expressions of children, outsiders and the mentally ill („Art Brut“). In his days the question was virulent in art of whether art should relate to reality, or the artist is to be understood as a creator of autonomous forms – and in Dubuffet´s art you have an amalgamation of both. It tries to establish an autonomous individual´s reality. Like Wols (who philosophised about the microcosm inherent in a crack in the pavement), Dubuffet found things produced by matter itself sometimes more interesting than things produced by man, and he tried to give banal things dignity. He was highly aware of the interconnectedness, of the primal unity of all things and occasionally found the space between objects more interesting than the objects themselves. In order to produce his paintings he used his fingers, he used spoons or scrapers. In his metaphysics of a keen interconnectedness and unity of things he understood this mode of unity as a permanent metamorphosis that happens between things, respectively between man and his surroundings. He also saw the primal ground of undifferentiatedness (and expressed it, for instance, in Place for Awakening, an undifferentiated, amorphous field of primal chaos) and the task of the artist to erect (malleable, flexible) forms.

In the late 1940s also the CoBrA group tried to establish authentic art by relating to the expression of outsiders in a grown up world (i.e. children, the mentally ill, etc.). However, the group disbanded after a while as they began to sense that in doing so, i.e. in trying to undermine style, a new style began to emerge – as something CoBrA was eager to avoid, although its members continued to produce art as individuals afterwards. CoBrA had understood its mission as distinctly political as well. Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, in his depictions of the full potential of human gesture, also often relied on the depiction of children. Bouguereau used to paint cool children. Sir Joshua Reynolds was a pioneer in painting children in a gracious way. In our days, Morgan Waistling does.

Upon reflection, there doesn´t seem to be enough childishness in art. Well, Nietzsche once said, in the realm of the intellect there are artists, philosophers, scholars, scientists. All of them are rare among humans, and he said that artists usually are very vain and conceited. The rarest of all are individuals are those interested in nothing but digging mole gangs, subterranean tunnels, in blindness, just for the sake of discovering something new about existence. According to him, that´s the true anti-egotism (and is usually poorly rewarded). I cannot find this aphorism right now, maybe it is in the second book of Menschliches, Allzumenschliches or in Morgenröte or Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft. Vincent, the Omega Painter, for instance, was of this kind (and also Franz, who explicitely wrote about a giant mole and about subterranean tunnel burrows). According to legend, van Gogh used to get very aroused when he saw little children, and he said: A child in the cradle has the infinite in his eyes. When his acquaintance Sien brought a child to this world, Willem, Vincent again was very fond, and also in the eyes of Willem he saw the infinite (Willem later became a worker for a railway company and made himself unpopular among his comrades with his flirtations with fascism).