Picasso helps baby see the big picture
A few years ago now, former Goldman Sachs employee-turned-venture-philanthropist Yana Peel noticed that her toddler son had become fascinated by a piece of art hanging in the family home. Sara Walking, by Julian Opie, the artist who found widespread acclaim after designing the cover art for Blur: The Best Of, featured a traffic light-like outline of a woman doing precisely what its title suggested: walking.
“He was mesmerised,” Peel says. “My son's maternity nurse deduced that this was a primal reaction well documented in babies, who are naturally drawn to the sharp contrast of black and white.”
Peel was intrigued, and investigated further, learning from childcare expert Dr Miriam Stoppard that it is indeed a primal, evolutionary sense that all newborns come pre-programmed with.
Peel had left the world of high finance in 2003 to co-found something called the Outset Contemporary Art Fund, which supports upcoming artists. In the light of her infant-related discoveries, she exposed her young son to more works, convinced she was on to something. In 2008, she published a book of toddler-friendly portraits called Art for Baby. “It did catch my baby's attention, but some of the pictures are a bit strange” read one considered review on Amazon.
It has now spawned a follow-up. Art for Baby: Faces brings together a series of facial images created by some of our most internationally renowned artists, among them Grayson Perry, Jeff Koons and Chris Ofili, whose Untitled, from Afromuses (Couple) from 1995-2005 is pictured above right. There is even a vintage Picasso here. “We decided it was time to extend the concept into the world of portraiture,” Peel explains, “stimulating even the youngest of children with an artistic practice whose roots are likely to be found in prehistoric times.”
Picasso's inclusion, Lastre au Visage Gravé (above left), from 1948-50, looks prehistoric itself, a deliberately crude version of a smiley face carved into rock. Others, particularly Opie's and Ofili's, are softer and warmer, cuddly palliatives seemingly tailor-made for their target audience.
“Human faces,” according to Dr Stoppard, “are the most important thing a baby and young child sees. Looking at them helps their intellectual, emotional and psychological development.”
Peel suggests the book could promote early cultural appreciation in children. If she's right, though, it would mean a future generation of self-appointed art critics, arguably the very last thing the modern world needs.
'Art for Baby: Faces' is published by Templar Publishing
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
healthJames Bond's alcohol consumption puts him at 'high risk' of cirrhosis, tremors... and impotence
musicPolice chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
tvSpoiler alert: Find out the result of a heated final show
Beatles rush out 'bootleg' album to defy EU copyright law
Harvey Weinstein reveals his secret weapon on-set
Now that an oil trader's drinking has got him sacked, will we all have to make do with an afternoon latte?
Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba get nods for Best Actor, which no black Brit has ever won
Geoffrey Macnab reviews The Desolation of Smaug - the meat in Peter Jackson's Hobbit sandwich
peopleWhat advice would David Cameron give to his younger self?
Arts & Ents blogs
Not all right on the night
MasterChef 2013: Steven Edwards, Adam Handling and Scott Davies are the final professionals
Steven Edwards crowned winner of MasterChef: The Professionals 2013
Paul Walker: Fast & Furious 7 writers working on exit story for Brian O'Conner
Kanye West is as 'misguided as they come': Ohio police chief rejects rappers' claims that his work is as dangerous as law enforcement or military service
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Australia incest case: Severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 4 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >