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Why Your Five-Year-Old Could Not Have Done…
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Why Your Five-Year-Old Could Not Have Done That: From Slashed Canvas to…

by Susie Hodge

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Just finished reading Susie Hodge’s Why your five years old could not have done that, a book whose purpose is to explain why modern art is not a child’s play by introducing and discussing 100 pieces of art. The book structure is fairly simple, it’s divided in 5 chapters:
Objects & Toys
Expressions & Scribbles
Provocations & Tantrums
Landscapes & Playscapes
People & Monsters

The insight of an artwork is on 2 pages and it has a very schematic structure:

Artwork picture
Why your 5 years old could not have done that paragraph (? symbol)
Techniques and approach of the artist (paintbrush symbol)
Historic and artistic context of the artwork (dot-like symbol)
Specifications and location of the artwork (i symbol)
Additional information (! symbol)
Examples of similar artworks and their artwork (eye-like symbol)

I have really appreciated the methodical approach used, especially the historical and sometimes political information, but the thing I didn’t like was the reasons why children couldn’t have done those pieces of art since the main reasoning was “a child doesn’t have the awareness, the consciousness, has not lived through what the artist has” which is kind of obvious. Bringing up the informative parts the book is complete and very useful, but I would not recommend it as someone’s first art book and some previous knowledge of the subject will assure that the reading is more pleasurable and enjoyable. Some words are very specific of the art field, but they’re used only when necessary since I think that the main target of the book is the general public rather than an art major or an art teacher. Well-written and complete and even though it’s not very convincing about the main purpose (modern art =/= children thing) I would recommend it. ( )
  Aimapotis | Jan 3, 2017 |
Not a bad read; the author does explain about modern art using a wealth of individual pictures and works. Fairly useful, despite its silly title. ( )
  annbury | Jun 11, 2015 |
An intriguing title and an interesting look into “modern art”, which suffers from that oft-heard criticism that “my five-year-old could have drawn that!” In fact, I had just recently heard this very criticism from some colleagues who were less-than-enamored with a special exhibit of Paul Klee’s works, which made for an awkward discussion as I tried to point out an alternative view.

The 100 works that Hodge selected span a broad spectrum, and reactions to any given piece will certainly vary. At times she provides real insight into these works, though it’s hit and miss, and sometimes it seems like she’s trying too hard. She also gets a little silly by devoting a text box to each to literally try to explain why a five-year-old ‘could not have done that’.

The spirit of the book, the fact that you never know what you’re going to see next, and some of the individual pieces themselves are all in 4-star country. I downgraded it slightly because of the variability in my reactions; modern art is in general not my favorite. On the other hand, I liked how this book opened my eyes a bit, and I think most will find something of interest here. ( )
3 vote gbill | Nov 1, 2014 |
I took my family to the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice this weekend. Before entering the museum proper, I took the kids to the gift shop and had each pick out three postcards and then told them to find the art on the postcards in the museum. This worked well, at least at the Guggenheim, which was small and busy with people getting out of the rain. My ten year old son really enjoyed the experience, got a little excited about pointillism and he adored de Chirico's The Red Tower. My daughter on the other hand, took her influence from her father and while she started out excited, she soon started complaining that any little kid could paint those. Next time I'm leaving my husband home, but in the meantime I picked up Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That. In it, Susie Hodge looks at 100 works of art that have been controversial and puts them in their historic and artistic context, explaining why each one is important and worth looking at and not something a child could come up with. The artists represented range from Munch, Matisse and Picasso, through Twombly, Warhol and Pollock right up to contemporary artists like Hirst, Emin and Gilbert & George.

The author does a fine job explaining the influences on each artist and on each represented work as well. The entries are fun to read, with each artwork reproduced in color and then the rest of each two page spread broken into brief blocks of text. Other artworks by each artist are suggested. My daughter enjoyed paging through the book and looking at the works that caught her eye. I liked the clear and concise explanations of each work and how the author put each work in context. I would have liked a less American/British focus to the book, but that's a small quibble. The book could also have used a bit more of a sense of humor, after all much of the art represented here was painted to poke fun at the art establishment. ( )
12 vote RidgewayGirl | Oct 7, 2013 |
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The author examines 100 works of modern art that have attracted public hostility from Cy Twomblys scribbled "Olympia", Jean-Michel Basquiats "LNAPRK", to the careless mess of Tracey Emins "My Bed". In this title, the author gives you an understanding of the ways in which modern art differs from the realistic works of earlier centuries.… (more)

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