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Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Importance of Failing: Giovanni Caroto's Young Boy with a Drawing.



I first saw this picture on Great Works by Tom Lubbock in the Independent. I still miss Tom Lubbock's writing on art and I still miss the Independent.

The picture is Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Child's Drawing (circa 1515), Giovanni Francesco Caroto and it shows a young boy with a drawing.

It's fabulous. It is one of the those pictures that absolutely nail something that we should know but we often sometimes forget - that people in the past are very much like those in the present, or that people in the present are very much like those in the past.

And the drawings they do as children are very much the same as children do now.

It's also the first depiction of child art in European painting and that's significant.

In the article, Lubbock talks about the allure of that childlike primitivism featured in Caroto's painting and the difficulty of trying to capture that childlike art.

'But the most telltale characteristic, and by far the hardest to imitate, is simply the quality of a child's drawn line. It's wrong to think of it as wildness. That wouldn't be so tricky. You can lose control and fling your flailing arm at a page at any age.
Child art is not pure wildness. Children are trying to get something right. They want to but they can't.'
He also. They want to but they can't. It's the same in photography as in art. We all want to but we can't. We can't fail in the same way that children fail - fail while trying, so not failing at all. And it seems that in his depiction of a child drawing, Caroto is failing in some way too. As Lubbock says. 
'And of course, this drawing is not a drawing. It's a painting of a drawing, made in the infinitely correctable medium of oil paint. Caroto has closely observed how children draw. He probably hasn't tried to unteach his own hand. He has faked it. And his careful copying has preserved for us evidence that while art styles change, children 500 years ago failed much as they do today.'


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