The literature on the development of gifted child artists is sparse and very little is known of the developmental antecedents of giftedness in the visual arts. Although children's drawings have received a great deal of attention, the development of artistically gifted children has been a neglected topic due to the paucity of available data, which has led some investigators to argue that there are no child prodigies in this domain.
Researchers are faced with many unanswered questions regarding the course of artistic development including:
• Is it similar to that seen in ordinary children or does it follow a different developmental trajectory?
• What, if any, continuities can we discern over development, and how can we account for discontinuities?
• What motivates young children to pursue their art making, and what characterizes the gifted child who pursues an artistic career in adulthood?
• What are the socio-cultural conditions that foster artistic development, and how do we define artistic talent or giftedness?
Consisting of six case studies, the present collection is a first in that it traces the development of each artist from a very early age on through adulthood. The longitudinally based studies provide an insight into the evolution of a universal graphic language that is also highly subjective and reflects the individuality of the young artist. The material is unique in that the authors had access to comprehensive collections of gifted childrens' drawings, which enabled them to begin to fill the gap in understanding their development.
The development of artistically gifted children is examined from a variety of perspectives by authors who are artists, art educators and historians, and developmental and clinical psychologists. The children's collections studied afford detailed analyses of the drawings which shed light on the developmental origins and antecedents of giftedness in the visual arts. These studies elucidate the meaning of the early graphic forms, their evolution into a graphic language, and the child's early sense of aesthetics. In addition, they provide insight into continuities and discontinuities of style and subject matter, and the motivation to pursue art in childhood and adulthood. They also offer clues to the importance of socio-cultural factors that affect the choice of an artistic career. The diverse perspectives of the authors highlight the importance of theory for deepening the understanding of artistic development and its significance for human concerns.