You are on page 1of 22

Childhood 6,2 (May 1999).

SUBVERSIVE INNOCENCE: A REVIEW OF THE INNOCENT EYE The Innocent Eye: Children's Art and the Modern Artist, by Jonathon Fineberg, Princeton University Press, 1997. 249 Pages. ABSTRACT: Fineberg’s analysis of the influence of children’s art on modern artists—the most prominent of which are, Kandinsky, Klee, Miro, Picasso, Dubuffet, and Pollock— implicitly understands the influence of the child in modern Western mythologies of the self as deconstructive of a rationalized culture bound by bureaucratic life-ideals. Artists of the first half of the twentieth century turned to children’s art—as they did to “primitive” art as well—in order to decondition themselves, to clear away cultural conventions, and welcome the powerful, irrational forces of the unconscious mind. The aesthetic revolution of which they were the vanguard, and in which their dialogue with child art played such a central role, sought a revolution in the aesthetics of lived experience in general, with learning to appropriate what Fineberg calls "the primary perception which is childlike in its directness, an experience filtered by the perservering presence of the childhood mind." But this “innocent eye” uncovers more than just candor, spontaneity, a "state of newness" or a "childlike freshness of vision." Sometimes it reveals a terrible innocence—the innocence of Freud's doomed child-hero gazing in horror, jealousy and fascination at the primal scene, or Melanie Klein's infant at the breast, splitting off the "bad mother" in rage and hatred. This emerging evocation of "destructive and destabilizing instinctuality"--the frank sexuality, aggression and possessiveness of one aspect of the child—was experienced in the 20th century both existentially and as cultural politics, in that it represents a deconstruction of Enlightenment Reason. Fineberg invokes Rimbaud--perhaps the most stunning enfant terrible of the 19th century--and his idea of the "childman" who ushers the "revolutionary forces of irrationality into society.” The childman is bent on "examining fundamental values with a child's candor," "assaulting the hierarchies of adult civilization with a subversive innocence." The hero of this book is anonymous, a species hero--the archetypal divine child that 20th century depth psychology traced into the collective unconscious, and popular psychology rendered a media event as the "inner

child." C.G. Jung described the archetype as "a symbol of the unity of personality, a symbol of self, . . . the distant goal of man's selfdevelopment."1 He claimed that the appearance of this bisexual, primordial being in myth and dream announces to the adult searcher the advent of a union of the conscious and unconscious elements of personality. The children whose art Jonathon Fineberg reproduces in The Innocent Eye are of flesh and blood, but the images they produce evoke--at least for the artists whose work he links with theirs--this heroic vision of unity. Fineberg does not mention the divine child, but the latter has been appearing for thousands of years in mythic narrative. He was only

"discovered" in this century--which, as it dawned, the Swedish feminist and millenarian Ellen Karolina Sofia Key dubbed "the century of the child." "The time will come," she wrote in her best selling book of that name in 1909, "in which the child will be looked upon as holy."2 The Innocent Eye surveys the century from its other end. If we follow Fineberg's implicit account of the sacralization of childhood in our time, it might appear that Key chose the right word but the wrong sense. Her holy child represented an odd mixture of Victorian eugenics, maternal soteriology, sentimentalism and progressive educational theory. Fineberg's, by contrast, is a messenger of the terrible sublime, sent to a repressed and hyper-rationalized adult world to convey what he refers to as "the unspeakable revelation of the unconscious mind." (23) Even as Key's manifesto went to print, the veils which the European

bourgeoisie had thrown over the instinctual abyss were being rent by what Max Weber called "the revenge of the animalic."3 Rather than a prophet of genetic purity, innocence and social solidarity, the child came, as the century progressed, to assume the role of psychopomp of the return of the repressed. She shared this dubious privilege with the madman and the "primitive"--the very genetic riffraff Key was wondering aloud how to breed out of the race. This child is an enemy within the gates of a civilization mastered by materialism, calculative reason, and what Fineberg refers to at one point as "the rigor mortis of its cultural hierarchies." (11) A pyrrhic enemy in a sense, for unlike the psychotic, she will be conquered gradually, unwittingly, by the life-cycle itself--an eternal, implacably iterative enemy in that as one child falls to the onset of adulthood, another is born. Fineberg describes her as "a kind of domestic noble savage," always present to remind the adult of his "prehistory." (11) Although Fineberg doesn’t mention it, the child has a long history of playing psychopomp in adult consciousness. According to Lao Tzu, "He who is in harmony with the Tao is like a newborn child. It's bones are soft, its muscles are weak, but its grip is powerful."4 In ancient Athens, a child was chosen every year to act as intermediary between the initiates and the divine presence in the Mysteries of Eleusis.5 It is the child's very marginality which so privileges him, for the gods are marginal too. He represents a limit condition of the "human," sharing place with other elementals. Thus, the putti which swarm through Hellenistic and Renaissance art emerge at the

electrically charged intersection of earth and heaven, spirit and flesh, blessing and mischief, purity and sensuality. Wherever they appear--

whether riding dolphins, wrestling with phallic geese, or rolling back the sky, the numen is not far behind, whether in the form of the Virgin, the naked goddess or the robed and bearded Father. The doctrine of the liminal child seems to be perennial, Thus for it even travels of unproblematized nature, of into






primitivism, childhood, madness, divinity . . . [are] at once feared as a threat of death, and desired as access to a life without differance."6 The

downside of this involuntary sacerdotism is the adult prejudice that children are not quite human. In Aristotle, they share with women and slaves the fate of being monsters of a sort, in that they possess the requisite parts of the soul, but in the wrong proportion. The part in question is the

"deliberative element," which is, according to Aristotle, "completely lacking in the slave; the female has it but without authority; and the child has it but in incomplete form."7 Fineberg's twentieth century child hero--whose crude scribbles Picasso studied with "greedy curiosity," (120) Kandinsky scanned for traces of a universal visual language, and Klee compared favorably to his own work— has a background which he doesn’t reference. The chilid had already been reborn in the modern imagination during the previous fin de siecle, out of a similarly explosive tension between the forces of reason and unreason. In 1796, at the height of Revolution, as Blake was railing against "Single vision

& Newton's sleep," Schiller identified the child as a prototype of "genius," someone through whom nature acts spontaneously. "In them, then," he said, "we see eternally that which escapes us, but for which we are challenged to strive, and which, even if we never attain it, we may still hope to approach in endless progress."8 So begins the Romantic Quest for the resurrected body as a recovery of the polymorphous perverse of early childhood. Only a few years later, it was provided its grand philosophical narrative by Schelling and Hegel, as Spirit's quest to recover its sundered self, to "be at home with itself in its otherness."9 The artists Fineberg identifies most centrally with children's art are the Russian Primitivists, Kandinsky, Gabriele Munter and the Blaue Reiter circle, Klee, Miro, Picasso, Dubuffet, COBRA (the group of artists from Copenhagen, Brussels and Amsterdam active in the 1940's), and Pollock. To the extent they cared to talk about it, they could be said to have shared the quest to be "at home with themselves in their otherness." But one hundred years later, the stakes had risen. The sublime genius-child of the Romantics had long since been co-opted by a repressive Victorian sentimentalism, and turned into an angel of the most innocuous variety. Nietzsche had undergone his crucifixion on the cross of Apollo and Dionysius, leaving us with a warning: "Whoever pushes rationality forward also restores new strength to the opposite power."10 Freud had launched his perilous archeological expedition to the lost city of the Unconscious, while Weber, another heroic victim of Victorian repression, thundered against the plague

of rationalization and Entzauberung or "disenchantment" seeping into the Western life world--calling for something "to set against this machinery, in order to preserve a remnant of humanity from this parcelling-out of the soul, from this exclusive rule of bureaucratic life-ideals."11 It was artists, as members of a rebel priesthood who--as in the Eleusinian mysteries--sent the child ahead of them to meet the gods of the unconscious. Of course Fineberg's competent, fine-grained analysis

identifies a multiplicity of responses to children's art in the work of those featured here. But the theme of the return of the repressed--not just to an artistic vanguard, but to a civilization fallen captive to what he refers to as "the dissimulating structure of adult consciousness" (208)--runs through almost all of them. "I paint to decondition myself," proclaimed Henri Michaux (163). And the artist described as "the pompier of infantile art," Jean Dubuffet, announced his own project as one of "de-culturation." He

turned to children's art, according to Fineberg, in order to "clear away cultural conventions," and welcome "the powerful, irrational forces of the unconscious mind, breaking through the ice of conventional thinking, providing a fissure through which one may slip into a simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying authenticity of experience" (153). In those first, pioneering exhibitions by expressionists, cubists, futurists and Russians of the avant-garde, artists hung children's art next to their own. Kandinsky and Munter, Klee, Appel and Dubuffet developed extensive collections of children's art (their own children's included), some

pieces of which provided not just inspiration but direct models for their own works. Artists of the COBRA group reproduced children's art regularly in their journal, and collaborated with their own children in certain works. Klee's iconographic explorations drew, not only on work from his own childhood, but that of his son Felix, which he mounted and preserved. Picasso painted and drew with his four children. What attracted them to this form of expression which seems so ephemeral and haphazard, which thrives on the very absence of technique, which appears to be so unaware of itself? Fineberg notes the anger inspired by the results of this new preoccupation with children's art, "both among its defenders and its alienated viewers" (21). Those alienated viewers (who sometimes include children) are still around, and they usually couch their outrage in the discourse of technique--"My four-year old daughter could do that!" There is the suspicion of a hoax, but doesn't a priesthood always run that risk? Klee, Fineberg reports, took up the challenge directly, remarking once that he had no objection to his art being associated with "children's scribbles and smears. That's fine!" adding "the pictures my little Felix paints are better than mine" (100). Then there is Picasso's famous mot to Sir Herbert Read, dropped as they toured an exhibition of children's art in Paris in 1945: "When I was the age of these children I could draw like Raphael. It took me many years to learn how to draw like these children" (133). What's unsettling about these remarks is the sense of reversal they convey. They seem to trivialize the artist's difficult, life-long struggle for

technical mastery, and propose a notion of artistic development as a process of letting go, and of rejecting the historical logic of a tradition. The "innocence" referred to here must be a dangerous one, since it overthrows, as Fineberg puts it, "the conventions of adult socialization," and threatens "our pact with the world" (23). Art begins to resemble spiritual practice,

with all its paradoxes, reversals, and uncommunicable truths. Of the Russian neo-primitivist Larionov, Fineberg reports that he and "the circle of futurist poets around him were deeply involved with infantilism not merely as a lexicon of formal devices but for its ability to undermine fixed ideas about the world. He painted designs on his face . . . staged cabaret happenings inspired by child's play . . ." (40). Child art broke into and broke up European artistic convention with a power equivalent to that with which primitive art did, but it was a slow, apparently innocuous process, originating, not from the realm of the dangerous other, but from the "domesticated noble savage" in the nursery, in the heart of the culture itself. I would suggest that it was meeting the Other in post-colonial Europe that prepared adults to meet the Other in their own children; whatever the case, the time was right. One had only to really look—for once—for it to become visible. Karel Appel : Appel was walking in the mountains in the south of France and "suddenly it was snowing," he recalled; hundreds of small sheets of paper started raining down from the sky. On these leaves were children's Fineberg quotes a story told by

drawings, which he gathered up as best he could. He searched for a school bus or a group of children, but there was no one in sight, and he never did figure out where they came from. Appel made recourse to this collection of children's drawings as a source of inspiration for a number of years thereafter. (201) The pieces of children's art Fineberg has included in this volume, set alongside the adult art they inspired, have something like the same effect-the more apparently random, the more meaningful--on the reader who lingers over them awhile. The "deconditioned" eye allows the image, so apparently thoughtless and untrained, naively distorted, random and crudely stereotypic, so anonymous, to draw it in, and suddenly, as in one of those gestalt-shift drawings, one is aware that it signifies. In its spontaneity, its vitality, its unplanned quality, it allows the imagination to take it up at depths of signification which are "surreal" in the sense that their origins are unconscious, nonsensical, nonliteral, out of sight. Then, rather than a sense of the random and the stereotypic, one sees the image in synchronicity: each item, each color, each apparent deformation is exactly where it should be to signify what (mysteriously) the whole does. The stereotype just

makes it easier to gaze into the deeper form it is referencing. This is the (de)formation rendered by the "innocent eye." And the implications of this way of seeing are wider, according to Fineberg, than just looking at art. They have to do with the aesthetics of lived experience in general. Dubuffet, inspired by child and primitive art, drew its further conclusions in his notion

of art brut: If we came to realize that any object in the world may fascinate and illuminate someone, we would be in much better shape. This idea would, I think, enrich our lives more than the Greek notion of beauty. . . . Art addresses the mind and not the eyes. That is how it has always been regarded by "primitive" societies; and they are correct (164). The deconditioning effect of children's art took time and proceeded by stages. The subtext of Fineberg's narrative suggests a process of

radicalization, of progressive interiorization of a way of seeing in each of the artists he describes. As the century begins, Larionov, Kandinsky and Munter draw and paint like adults charmed and influenced by the iconography, coloring, and formal devices of children's art. They work its syntax into their own style and it transforms it, but something like the way folk melodies transformed Dvorak. It has not yet caused them to try to forget what they know. For Larionov and his circle, for example, the symbolic language of children's art was placed alongside painted shop signs, religious icons, peasant ornaments and textiles, etc. The neo-primitivists and futurists, it is true, were already celebrating the destabilizing character of children's play, and entering its spirit "in order to release revelations of the transrational self" (33), but one need only put a Larionov next to a Miro or a late Picasso or a Pollock, to see that the deconstructive impulse had not yet fully taken hold from the inside. Kandinsky too, for all the ferocious playfulness of his prewar

"abstractions," for which he drew extensively from his collection of children's drawings, seems to have approached child art from an

archeological and assimilative point of view, on a search for what he described as an "inner, organic root of art beneath outwardly different forms" (80). Like Rothko after him, he understood children's art as ahistorical, following "eternal laws of form and construction" (209). Kandinsky uses child art as a model and a stimulus for emergent purposes of his own, for example to reclaim at another level of abstraction the "naive" narrative iconography of medieval art. In Klee, Picasso, Miro and the COBRA artists, the dialogue with child art deepens. What began as a new element of a syntactical repertoire has become an exemplar of the aesthetic revolution implicit in Klee's pronouncement of 1918: "Art does not reproduce the visible. Rather, it makes visible." (90) The transition point of this shift from integrating elements of child art, to drawing and painting like (but not as) a child is visible in Klee. Fineberg reproduces several of his early drawings, from ages four to ten, which the artist came upon in 1902 while rummaging through his parents' storage, shortly after his return from four years of artistic "finishing" in Rome. He wrote his fiancée that he valued these drawings over anything he had done so far, and at that point his life-long preoccupation with children's art began. Yet I would suggest that, like Kandinsky, Klee begins by integrating the syntax of children's art into a complicated, ironic, even consciously (anti)metaphysical project. We recognize the iconography and the

expressive vocabulary of child art, but it is woven, in however alternately droll, sarcastic or cosmic a manner, into a sort of commentary. It is in the 30's, nearer the end of his life, that, as Finberg puts it, "his whole style veers towards childlike directness" (84). And here the almost ominous overtones of the deconditioning influence of child art begin to suggest themselves. In his Ragged Ghost of 1933, or Hungry Girl of 1939, for example, the raw instinctual edges and disturbing unconscious revelations which become so insistent in late Picasso and Miro are first sensed. The adult art Fineberg reproduces from the 30's and 40's begins to impress on the reader the sense that the innocent eye is uncovering and revealing more than just candor, spontaneity, a "state of newness" or a "childlike freshness of vision." Innocent still, but sometimes a terrible

innocence, the innocence of Freud's doomed child-hero gazing in horror, jealousy and fascination at the primal scene, or Melanie Klein's infant at the breast, splitting off the "bad mother" in rage and hatred. This emerging evocation of "destructive and destabilizing instinctuality"--the frank

sexuality, aggression and possessiveness of one aspect of the child--is experienced both existentially and as cultural politics. Fineberg invokes Rimbaud--perhaps the most stunning enfant terrible of the 19th century-and his idea of the "childman" who ushers the "revolutionary forces of irrationality into society" (221). The childman is bent on "examining

fundamental values with a child's candor," "assaulting the hierarchies of adult civilization with a subversive innocence" (151). As I read Fineberg’s

subtext, Picasso becomes the childman: the crude monumental dreamlike spontaneity of the child's style is not just referenced, but entered. It doesn't point at something else; it is not a stylistic device, an element of syntax even, but a way of seeing, a whole world of form, an eternal sense of starting over. In her remarks on Picasso, Gertrude Stein compares him to the child looking at the face of its mother and seeing only what it sees, i.e., not completing the whole face from prior knowledge, the way we learn to. Picasso, she says, was like the child: "when he saw an eye, the other did not exist for him" (128). Miro shows us in yet a different way what it's like for an adult to see like a child. He was described by a friend in 1929 as walking the street wideeyed, like an "amazed child." Later, he prophesied over himself: "I think that at the end of my life I will recover all the force of my childhood." Actually he seems to have done even more--he immerses himself in the child's way of seeing to the point that his work has all the characteristics of child art enumerated by Fineberg: perspectively "egocentric," a compositional style built on narrative, a reduction of composition to highly charged, single images, the use of color with maximum intensity, the use of simultaneous perspectives, a tactile and kinesthetic emphasis in stroke and form, symbolic exaggeration, an orientation to images as though one were inside the picture, arbitrary limiting or infinitizing of space, either heroizing or dwarfing the objects placed within it. . . . Miro is not adopting these elements of style, he is entering them. How

does he accomplish this reappropriation of the child's eye? The metaphor which Fineberg uses again and again is stripping away, revealing, breaking with, deconstructing, deconditioning, but this is just a metaphor. Is it a return to a specific visual experience--could one actually go back to seeing the world the way a four-year old sees it? Child art is a function of physical size, neuronal organization, psychomotor maturation, years on the planet, experience with the materials of art, the symbolic universe of a being who is in a state of extreme dependency on others while also in terrific biological and psychological transition, etc. In fact neither Picasso nor Miro draw or paint "like children" at all--only someone completely unfamiliar with child art would mistake their canvases for children's work. Fineberg quotes Miro's description of his process in an interview in 1948. "I start a canvas without a thought of what it may eventually become. . . . then I take it out and work at it coldly like an artisan, guided strictly by rules of composition after the first shock of suggestion has cooled" (149). So doing art like a child seems to have to do with entering what Fineberg calls "the primary perception which is childlike in its directness, an experience filtered by the perservering presence of the childhood mind" (137). Miro

boasted, "I have managed to escape into the absolute of nature" (143). Does he mean the "absolute" of the unity of perception and action, nature itself acting unmediated? If so, Miro means he has escaped into the Romantic state of genius; his art has become an event of nature. At about this point in Fineberg's chronological narrative--in the

1940's--the rhetoric of revolution with which child art had always been associated pushed beyond the artistic and into the personal and the cultural. We hear this shift in tone particularly in the professions of Dubuffet and the COBRA group of artists which he quotes. It begins with Dubuffet's critique of high "culture," which he understands, not just as "asphixiating," but as oppressive in the classical political sense of that word. What culture asphyxiates is the vital energy available to the "common people" not just for art but for life. Because we are intimidated by what a self-serving cadre of elite artists and critics have commodified as "good art," as "beautiful," we are alienated from our own creativity, which also means the creativity through which we are creators of our own lives. Fineberg quotes COBRA publicly protesting against the "general social impotence, the passivity of the masses," and attributing this condition to general levels of repression, "the brakes that cultural norms apply to the natural expression of the forces of life." What unified the COBRA artists, according to Fineberg, "was their desire for a liberated expression of the self in a direct, sensual interaction with the world" (179). The goal of "liberated expression of the self" is, as I read it, a modernist narrative, inaugurated by Romanticism as the psycho-cultural arm of the French Revolution. It concerns a personal and cultural revolution in the form of the reordering of the instinctual economy--a religious task, because it is about what Tillich called "ultimate concern." Art is its vanguard, artists and psychoanalysts its sacred priesthood, and works of art its icons.

Every child is an honorary prophet of this revolutionary movement, for she embodies its ideals, and prefigures its goals. The bourgeoisie represents, like the Pharisees did for Christianity, the enemy of this revolution. By the turn of the 20th century Nietzsche, Freud and Weber had, at least symbolically, smashed the idols of the bourgeoisie, and thus set the stage for the second wave, which surfaced in the first decade. I think it is significant that it hits its stride, in Fineberg's narrative anyway, in the late 1930's, just when Klee, Picasso and Miro were moving over the dangerous edge from experimenting with the motifs and conventions of child art to internalizing its perceptual universe as adults. At the same moment, COBRA and Dubuffet began calling for a democratic aesthetic revolution which would "liberate the individual from conventional thinking," and "arouse the creative instincts still slumbering unconscious in the human mind" (179180). I would suggest that there may be a historical analogue between this 20th century moment which, in retrospect, signaled the end of any real prospects for the Communist Revolution, and the end of the French Revolution. In both cases, the millennial hopes of political transformation had been dashed--in one by Napoleon, in the other by Hitler and Stalin--and were transformed into a millennial hope for a revolution in consciousness. "Art's most important task," wrote the COBRA artist Constant, is "the activation of the urge to create" (182). After the revolution, everyone will be an artist, the artist of his own life. It is through art as a vehicle for

experimentation and discovery that the human species will be able to come to terms with the world. This human birthright has been robbed from the people by "culture," which is the elite arm of political repression. Dubuffet sees the "real function" of art as "changing mental patterns, making new thought possible" (153). In 1947 he and his friends opened the Home for the Company of Raw Art, dedicated to the display of "works executed by people untouched by artistic culture, including the insane." Dubuffet's revolutionary discourse is informed by the party of Dionysius, from Blake to Rimbaud to Nietzsche to the radical Freudians to the Surrealists. It invokes the renovated world of the Romantic imagination, the world of the "second innocence," in which the Fall into division is overcome, and wholeness recovered on a higher level than the original. It is the end of history. "The rise from history to mystery," says N.O. Brown, a latter day prophet of this revolution, "is to experience the resurrection of the body here and now, as an eternal reality; to experience the parousia, the presence in the present, which is the spirit."13 As M.H. Abrams, one of its preeminent chroniclers, described it, this new earth and new heaven is "simply the ordinary world of life's every-day appearances, renovated by the interplay of mind and nature in the act of perception itself."14 We have passed from an outer revolution to a revolutionary mode of perception which accomplishes nothing less than the "creation" of a new world. The outcome of this recreative way of seing is an openness to experience, an ability to resist the asphyxiating atmosphere of social convention, because

of an instinctual economy in which, as among children, the "unconscious is . . . more unmodified and accessible" (182). This is what Abrams called "an apocalypse by imagination."15 According to this story—which Fineberg does not tell, but which grounds his account--the 20th century has proven to be the century of the child after all, but of Freud's, not Ellen Key's child. Key's child was holy as the vehicle for reaching a future post-bourgeois paradise of mental hygeine. Freud's--and Fineberg's--child puts us in touch with the holiness of the sinner, the poete maudit, desire's doomed protest against bourgeois repression. The 20th century child of art and psychoanalysis stands for the polymorphous perverse, for oceanic feeling, for what Blake called the "One Man," who lives in an expanded mode of vision. This child lives before

either Single Vision or Newton's Sleep, and before morality. She prefigures the post-moral world of playful cultural experimentation, of the erotic sense of reality, of jouissance, the unification of sex and holiness, necessity and desire. In ancient Athens, the child went before the people in the Eleusinian mysteries to meet the goddess. In the modern West, she goes before the adult to meet the next dialectical moment in the grand Romantic narrative of the union of the conscious and unconscious elements of personality in time and culture. As Fineberg's last chapter, "Mainstreaming Childhood," draws to a close, the grand Romantic/existentialist revolutionary narrative subtext of the book appears subtly to collapse. Could it be that the specter of what

Marcuse, in 1959, called "repressive desublimation" was already becoming culturally visible--that already the West was at the threshold of the Obscene? Indeed, what does happen when the lid is lifted from the bourgeoisie? Would it even be the bourgeoisie any more? Pollock, to be

sure, delves further yet into primary process, into free childlike scribbling; he even begins to put on the paint with his hands. I would suggest that he represents the furthest point of regression for the adult in search of the innocent eye; beyond that, psychosis. Fineberg in fact identifies all of abstract expressionism with a preoccupation with childhood so deep that it wasn't even necessary to talk about it. On its face, this would appear to signal a victory for the revolution. But then an odd self-consciousness enters the avant-garde's vision of child art. Perhaps Fineberg is identifying it indirectly when he speaks of a new, detached, semiotic perspective . . . that grew out of a shift that took place at the end of the 1950's . . . away from psychology and introspection and toward a concern with how we know what we know about the world. The pop artists, in particular, addressed themselves directly to the way in which popular culture and media had fundamentally changed our point of reference from nature (conceived as objectively measurable entity) to culture (as a mutating interface that shapes all human experience right from the moment of perception) (221-223). But the innocent eye is before culture, before language, before the

Father; it is the vision of the erotic (and "thanatosic") sense of reality, of pre-oedipal jouissance. In the realm of culture, it is transgressive. What Fineberg portrays last, in artists like Johns, Oldenberg and Hockney, is culture which has abandoned nature as a reference point, for which there is no "raw art." This is perhaps after all not such a giant step, at least for those taking it. For a Picasso or a Miro, the very unconsciousness of the conventions of child art make them vehicles for transcendence, so they help the artist to see through form into the "unspeakable revelation." For the postmodernists, they are all that's visible; they have no reference except to what Johns calls "the richness and uncertainty of all visual experience" (224). Richness perhaps, uncertainty for sure; in this visual universe, surface overcomes depth, not through suppressing or mimicking it, but by turning it into yet another reference. There is no innocent eye. There is another interesting subtext in Fineberg's last chapter which is perhaps even more ironic--the faintest of suggestions that, at the end of the century of the child, the child has disappeared. Fineberg mentions the popularization of Freudian psychology, the post-Second World War baby boom, and "the now common knowledge that childhood perseveres in every adult consciousness" (225). As a result, he says, "an awareness of child art became a part of the visual experience which artists since the 1950's have taken for granted. The influence of children and their aesthetic sensibilities on art since 1950 is . . . common" (210). "Mainstreaming" childhood results in the erosion of the dividing line between adult and child. Does this

represent the success of the Romantic revolution, the shift in the instinctual economy that will mean the end of history; or does it mean the rise of that new disease which psychoanalysts claim is epidemic in our time--the narcissistic personality disorder? Somehow Eden seems as far away as it ever was, perhaps further. Perhaps it recedes infinitely. On the other hand, another century is beginning, another millennium in fact. unspeakable revelation dies hard. ENDNOTES . C.G. Jung & K. Kerenyi, Studies in a Science of Mythology: The Divine Child and the Mysteries of Eleusis University Press, Bollingen, 1963), p. 94. 2. Ellen Karolina Sophia Key, The Century of the Child (New York: Arno Press, 1972[c 1909]). 3. Quoted in Arthur Mitzman, The Iron Cage (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1969), p. 251. 4. Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Stephen Mitchell, trans. (New York: Harper & Row, 1988) par. 55. 5. Mark Golden, Children and Childhood in Classical Athens (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1990). 6. Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. G.C. Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1976), p. 245. 7. 8. Aristotle, Politics I, 1260a9-14. Friedrich Von Schiller, Naive and Sentimental Poetry & On the (Princeton: Princeton And the

Sublime: Two Essays (New York: Norton, 1966), p. 85. 9. M.H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (New York: Norton, 1971), p. 230. 10. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power (New York: 1967), sec. 1012. 11. 12. Mitzman, The Iron Cage, p. 178. N.O. Brown, Love's Body (Berkeley: 1966), p. 214. 13. 14. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism, p. 337. Ibid, p. 334. University of California Press, Random House,