0201 The Art of the Enfants Terribles: Infantilism and Dilettantism in Punk Art

  • Marie Arleth Skov (Author)

    Marie Arleth Skov is a Danish art historian based in Berlin. She studied Art History, Philosophy, and Media and Communication Science at the Freie Universität Berlin. She is currently finishing her dissertation on the topic of punk and art within the framework of a double doctorate arrangement between the University of Copenhagen and the Universität Leipzig, which has been made possible by a Novo Nordisk Foundation scholarship. In the past, she has worked as a freelance art historian; together with Valeska Hageney, she curated the program of the project space REH Kunst in Berlin 2012–2013, including the exhibitions RE-MADE//RE-USED and Claus Larsen: I kill you before I leave. She is a member of the international Punk Scholars Network.

Identifiers (Article)


Punk was visual as much as it was musical. In recent years, art historical research of punk works of art has increased. However, a thorough analysis of punk art's themes, motifs, and methods is still lacking. This article examines infantilism and dilettantism as two key notions within punk art, as illustrated by the collage L'ecole de l'art infantile (COUM Transmissions, 1974) and the super 8 film Das Leben des Sid Vicious (Die Tödliche Doris, 1981). Analysis shows how concepts of childishness, nonconformism and anti-authoritarianism are interconnected both with punk's DIY ethos and its self-identification as a youth movement. Furthermore, the article discusses punk art's circumvention of antithetical concepts, such as failure vs. success, innocence vs. guilt, reality vs. fantasy, skill vs. incompetence.


punk, punk art, infantilism, dilettantism, Surrealism, Dada