Events / MindCORE/PCfN Seminar: Ellen Winner

MindCORE/PCfN Seminar: Ellen Winner

November 18, 2022
12:00 PM - 1:15 PM

111 Levin Building

We will also stream this seminar via Zoom.


Ellen Winner
Department of Psychology
Boston College


The Child as Artist: Claims and Counter Claims


The radical idea of the child as artist (as closely akin to adult artists) emerged in the 20th century, possibly due to the overlapping progressive education and modernist art eras. There is evidence that art made by preschool children (in both visual and linguistic domains) bears striking similarities to the art of western modernist adult artists, but this similarity is lost as children reach middle childhood and become increasingly rule-bound.


Despite the apparent similarity between preschool and adult art, there are also important differences: even adults untutored in modern art can distinguish non-representational preschool art from superficially similar works by modernist adult artists at a rate above chance. Children’s art is perceived as lower in intentionality than adult art.


When it comes to conceptualizing and perceiving art, young children are a far cry from adult artists: they lack a mentalistic understanding of art and fail to notice non-representational, aesthetic features of works of art such as expression, style, and composition. Paradoxically, then, as children lose their freshness in art making, they gain in the ability to perceive aesthetic features of works of art.


Pizza will be served. Please bring your own beverage!


This is a joint talk between MindCORE and Penn’s Center for Neuroaesthetics (PCfN)