Five Year Old

Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That

Modern Art Explained

  1. Susie Hodge
  • ISBN 9780500290477
  • 19.70 x 14.00 cm
  • Flexibound PLC (with jacket)
  • 224pp
  • 100 Illustrations, 100 in colour
  • First published 2012

In this enjoyable and thought-provoking book Susie Hodge explains, thoroughly and conclusively, why modern art is not, and never has been, child’s play.

‘Michael Glover’s Book of the Year – The Independent
‘Informative and well written’ – Artists and Illustrators
‘… passionate and persuasive’ – The Artist


See Susie Hodge talking about the book

The book examines 100 works of modern art that have attracted critical hostility – from Cy Twombly’s scribbled Olympia (1957), Jean-Michel Basquiat’s crude but spontaneous LNAPRK (1982), to the apparently careless mess of Tracey Emin’s My Bed (1998) – and explains how, far from being negligible novelties, they are extensions of the artistic ideas of their time.

In the past, estimation of artists' stature took great account of their ability to produce a likeness of the real world. A portrait was expected to be a faithful likeness, and landscapes had to be recognizable in all their details. However, especially after the arrival of photography, many artists ceased to make such ‘true’ likenesses in favour of more immediate images that sought to express feelings about their subjects. From the beginning of this sea change, critics have mistaken an apparent lack of technique for a lack of sophistication, often deriding works as nothing more than the untutored efforts of children.

Susie Hodge explains how ‘notorious’ works such as Carl Andre’s Equivalent VIII (1966) – a rectangular arrangement of fire-bricks that is admittedly easily copied by a child – occupy unique niches in the history of ideas, both showing influences of past artists and themselves influencing subsequent artists. A five-year-old might succeed in executing a spin painting such as those of Damien Hirst without understanding the ideas that lay behind it or its place in the history of artistic endeavour, but it does not follow that this work would be of significance to artists and historians.

With illustrations of works from Hans Arp to Adolf Wölfli, Hodge places each work in its cultural context to present an unforgettable vision of modern art. This book will give you an understanding of the ways in which modern art differs from the realistic works of earlier centuries, transforming as well as informing your gallery visits for years to come.

Susie Hodge is author of more than 70 books for adults and children. She has taught practical art and art history in schools and colleges, gives talks and lectures to both adults and children, and writes educational resources for all kinds of institutions for both teachers and students. She has been painting and illustrating for more than 15 years and runs workshops and demonstrations for all age groups and abilities.