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What is naïve art?

The term “naïve” (Fr. naïf) or “naïve art”, “original art” or “primitive art” comprises those visual artists, painters and sculptors and their works, from various cultures and localities throughout the world, who cultivate their own personal, creative, recognizable style of the childlike, naïve, infantile, non-academic enthusiasm. The works of these artists are characterised by caricature-like, disproportionate figuration devoid of any academic realism and execution ranging from the arrogant, aggressive colouring to masterfully refined colouristic harmonies, executed with supreme workmanship. Some Croatian art critics consider these artists to be hallmarked by another important common trait, that of poetic singularity (unique peculiarity), with the highest and finest level of execution. Mostly esteemed for their spontaneity, innocence, candour and naturalness, they have been recognized by the audience and the critics alike.


The difference between naïve art, outsider art and art brut

Naïve art should be distinguished from outsider art (marginal art, Croatian painters Drago Trumbetaš, Drago Jurak) and art brut (raw art), although in some segments they often overlap. As distinct from naïve art, which is specified by a high level of artistic craftsmanship, outsider art includes various kinds of fantasts, autistic expressions, marginal authors, eccentrics and builders of visionary structures and a lower level of craftsmanship. Art brut is an uncontrolled expression, entailed by bizarre, morbid, depressive tones, devoid of any aesthetic ambition. Certain interpretations include even the drawings of the people with intellectual disabilities into the circle of art brut. The circle of naïve art is mostly occupied by autodidacts, self-taught painters and sculptors who received no formal art education. It is even symptomatic that, with rare exceptions, most of them have low education in general, which most certainly does not preclude their natural intelligence and artistic inspiration. It is quite the contrary. Many of them have demonstrated that general education, even the artistic one, is not a precondition for achieving global recognition and attaining artistic excellence.

Croatian naïve artists – world’s leading artisans

Many Croatian artists, painters and sculptors alike, have demonstrated by their example how to attain the finest level of craftsmanship. Their artistry i.e. the craftsmanship skills of Croatian naïve artists are almost without a match in the world, especially when it comes to reverse glass painting. Naïve art is an artistic movement such as Expressionism, Dadaism, Surrealism, Cubism, so it is perhaps possible to call this segment of art – Naivism.

ART BRUT – Jakov Bratanić




NAIVA – Ivan Večenaj