May 22, 2010

Enzo Mari Pities Your Coloring In The Lines


You know I'll go to the mat for Enzo Mari anytime, anyplace. And I would love to find some vintage copies of his awesome Drawing Cards sets, too, like the one Michael recently posted at his blog, Stopping Off Place. The large-format drawing paper came pre-loaded with some imagination-sparking design elements. Soggetti e Sequenze [Subjects and Sequences], for example, has empty frames and windows, empty TV screens, and even strips of film [above].

I mean, just take a look at the Mari anti-coloring book manifesto and tell me it's not the awesomest thing you've ever read on the subject:

There are two ways of getting children to draw; both as easy as they are deceptive. One of htem, certainly the most widespread today, makes use of innumerable albums, all substantially the same, and consists in giving outlines of things, of people and of situations and asking the child to play the subordinate role of colouring in a world that is already in the hands of others. The very real sadness of what is asked of the child is incommensurable. The other approach is that of offering the child a blank sheet, a virgin world, one might almost say, which is "all to be invented"; this is making demands on a creativity that is abstract an doften ends by creating pure anguish: the child, faced with the emptiness, the white expanse placed before him by the adult who considers himself enlightened, is through up against his own effective impotence...
See why I love him? That is so fantastic.

Which is not to say Mari's drawing cards get it right; his "traces of world" are just as deterministic as an Elmo coloring book. For my money, and my kid, I would go with Taro Gomi's far more pedagogically diverse Scribbles and Doodles drawing books. The kid really grew into them around 3yo, and they are awesome.

Before then, of course, she was still happy just making a mark on a blank page to give much though to her own existential impotence.

OG: ENZO MARI: soggetti e sequenze [stoppingoffplace]
For the compleatist, Corraini has reissued all five of Mari's Drawing Card sets. At EUR7 each, they're getting cheaper by the day. [corraini]
Previously: Taro Gomi coloring books are cool, massive

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