Press Release

Primary Vision

Tate Liverpool  Ground floor gallery
5 May – 28 October 2001

How often have you ever heard the accusation ‘A child of six could do that!’ levelled against modern art? Have you ever wondered why seemingly untrained gestures and motifs entered fine art’s domain? Have you ever tried to regain in your own drawing the freshness of a child’s and found your adult version somehow lacking? Primary Vision invites visitors to consider and challenge these questions by presenting masterpieces influenced by a child’s vision.

This display from the Tate Collection brings together significant bodies of work by Miró, Klee, Dubuffet, Jorn and artists of the CoBrA group. These disparate artists sought to revive and celebrate the fresh innocence and intensity of a child’s vision - a vision often lost with the onset of education and adulthood. Works are presented by artist to emphasise the different ways that artists used and thought about children’s art. Artists in the CoBrA group for example, drew influence from the bold use of shape and colour to be found in children’s drawings. Klee used a childhood vision to create fantastical and enchanting mini-worlds. Dubuffet used direct techniques such as frottage and mono-printing to help free his art from traditional conventions.

The reasons for this interest in children’s art are varied. Certainly, the desire to return to innocence after the horrors of the Second World War was a strong one, as was the influence of Freud’s theories of the exploration of childhood memories as a route to personal discovery. Mostly though, the impulse stemmed from a desire to find a direct and intuitive language to record primary experience. It was this that prompted many to explore direct forms of creativity such as art made by children.

A section of the gallery is reserved for the display of drawings made especially for Primary Vision by children from local nursery and primary schools. The drawings offer an opportunity to ponder afresh the energy and qualities of children’s art.

To further enliven the display, the Gallery will create an exciting participatory drawing space for all visitors during the school holidays. This space will offer various drawing activities aimed at unlocking the creative child in us all.

Primary Vision is on display at Tate Liverpool from 5 May to 28 October 2001. Admission is free. The gallery is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5:50pm, closed Monday (except Bank Holiday Mondays). For further information, please telephone 0151 702 7402 or visit our website at