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...there is unself-conscious expression, that of the child who has not yet inherited the centuries and the savage whose identity with his environment has not yet become a prey to civilization, which--eminent aestheticians to the contrary--is of the utmost significance to aesthetics....these demand for their complete appreciation that, far from being mere spectators, we allow our intelligences to be digested; and not until this occurs do they cease to excite in us amusement or mepris, and reveal their significance. That is to say, they require of us an intelligent process of the highest order, namely the negation on our part, by thinking, of thinking; whereas in an "art" which emulates naivete through intelligent processes the case is entirely different....the inexcusable and spontaneous scribblings which children make on sidewalks, walls, anywhere, preferably with coloured chalk, cannot be grasped until we have accomplished the thorough destruction of the world. By this destruction alone we cease to be spectators of a ludicrous and ineffectual striving and, involving ourselves in a new and fundamental kinesis, become protagonists of the child's vision.

To analyze child art in a sentence is to say that houses, trees, smoke, people, etc., are depicted not as nouns but as verbs. The more genuine child art is, the more it is, contrary to the belief of those incapable persons who are content merely to admire it, purely depictive. In denying that the child "represents" and substituting for "representation" some desperately overworked word like "expression," these people are only showing their hostility to the academies, just as when they tell us (which is true) that the bad artist is the representational artist. But, as has been sometimes pointed out, the artist who represents is bad not because he represents: he is bad because he represents something which a camera can represent better. This means that he is depicting something that is second, or rather nth, hand, which a child most distinctly is not. Consequently to appreciate child art we are compelled to undress one by one the soggy nouns whose agglomeration constitutes the mechanism of Normality, and finally to liberate the actual crisp organic squirm--the IS.


The reason why all official and unofficial "criticism" OF The Elevation [a sculpture by Lachaise] fails, and fails so obviously this: The Elevation is not a noun, not a "modern statue," not a statue OF Something or Some One BY a man named Gaston Lachaise--but a complete tactile self-orchestration, a magnificently conjugation largeness, an IS. The Elevation may not be declined; it should not and cannot be seen; it must be heard: heard as a super-Wagnerian poem of flesh, a gracefully colossal music. In mistaking The Elevation for a noun the "critics" did something superhumanly asinine. In creating The Elevation as a verb Lachaise equalled the dreams of the very great artists of all time.