Toys and Art




Toys as:

freedom                             symbols

spontaneity                        sensing

fantasy                               intuition

imagined feeling                reflection

experimentation                 mastery

dreams                               confrontation

collapsed code systems



Toys are delimiting, innovative and

free relative to truth and reality.


Play ideologies used:

All possible permutations


The benefits of toys within Art are incredible:

Toys communicate fiction, dreams, imagination and new, alternative ideas and messages.

Many celebrated and well-established artists have used toys as a source of inspiration for their work. Many artists have pointed out that experience tells them that functionalism challenges the toy universe. For the creative person-at-play, toys, implements, piles of otherwise worthless materials, junk and scrap can be used advantageously in order to recycle, reform and construct something out of nothing, to manipulate preconceived images and random thoughts and ideas.

This has not only formed and produced Art and individual works of Art which have contributed to the development of new ideas and schools of thought. It has also produced Art which has broken the mould of tradition for critical, ethical and aesthetic thought which in turn has helped to bring about new perspectives and philosophies on life. The work of sculptors like Joan Miro and Robert Jacobsen are fine examples. The common denominator for experimental Art and imaginative toys is, among many other aspects, that they question the concept of “good taste” and “tradition”. The expression “mental pollution” has often been hurled at Modern Art, regardless of when this was produced or whether it in fact has been described as “modern”.

Viewing Art as an implement for use in a variety of connections is nothing new. Similarly, different types of toys can be regarded as good, new implements. However, the use of certain implements has certain consequences for the user. As with Art in its communicative form, play with new or unfamiliar toys involves all the paradoxes which are inevitably connected with the unfamiliar, strange or dangerous - i.e. both sympathetic magic and realistic consequences.

Art (in the form of poetry, literature, painted images or sculptured figures and objects) communicates alternative concepts. So do toys. The reader or beholder adds his own experiences and dreams to the concept of the work of Art in the same way as the child complements the concept of the toy with his own experiences and dreams for the future.

Art trivia helps people abstract from their everyday lives. Trivial toys, e.g. Barbie, help children to abstract from their everyday lives, the child day care centre and school. In the same way as Art creates a synthetic or symbolic imaginary universe or an absurd or symbolic debate, certain toys with a synthetic or symbolic concept motivate children to synthetic or symbolic play.

Just as true Art bears a message, so do good toys. How they are received will always be dependent on the responsiveness of the artist or of the recipient - or indeed of the child, his childhood environment and opportunities available to him for life and play.



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