The End of Innocence


The End of Innocence:
Childhood Torments in the Contemporary Art Collection

February 6, 2016–August 14, 2016

Childhood is a promise that is never kept.  –Ken Hill, British playwright, 1937-1995

The fairy-tale notion of childhood as a happy and carefree time of innocence and play wass challenged by the artwork presented in this exhibition. At their worst, early experiences can provide the first shocking realizations of evil and pain in the world. The End of Innocence explored these difficult and lingering early life memories, fantasies, and nightmares in works that address issues such as loneliness, bullying, racism, poverty, violence, and war. Making reference to childhood, much of the art contains cartoons, dolls, toys, coloring books, the alphabet, school photographs, and TV shows. Drawn entirely from the Wadsworth Atheneum’s Contemporary Art collection, among the artists in the exhibition were Eleanor Antin, Morton Bartlett, Enrique Martinez Celaya, Joseph Cornell, Vanessa German, Keith Haring, Charles LeDray, David Levinthal, Pepón Osorio, Collier Schorr, Deb Sokolow, Carrie Mae Weems, and David Wojnarowicz.

Related Programs
April 21, 2016 | Gallery Talk: The Perils of Childhood
June 3, 2016 | Gallery Talk: Changing Images of Childhood in American Art
Images (left to right):Vanessa German, Tar Baby on Pig with “N,” 2011, Tar, found objects, hand-wrought beads, cloth, and spark plugs, Gift of Linda Cheverton Wick, 2014.10.13; Morton Bartlett, Girl Reading, c. 1955/2006, Chromogenic print mounted on 4-ply museum board, Gift of Linda Cheverton Wick, 2014.10.4; David Wojnarowicz, Untitled (One day this kid…), 1990-91, Photostat on paper, The Alexander A. Goldfarb Contemporary Art Acquisition Fund, 1997.13.1; Charles LeDray, Freedom Train, 2013-15, Fabric, thread, leather, metal, wood, paint, and plastic, The Douglas Tracy Smith and Dorothy Potter Smith Fund, 2015.19.1