Art

Seriously Cute: Six Artists Harnessing the Power Dichotomy of Cuteness

Narumi Nekpenekpen’s Look, I ♥ U., 2019, Porcelain clay and glaze. Courtesy of ODD ARK • LA.
Narumi Nekpenekpen’s Look, I ♥ U., 2019, Porcelain clay and glaze. Courtesy of ODD ARK • LA.

Cuteness is the first aesthetic most of us encounter in life. We are exposed to it as babies, through consumer goods, even before we are conscious of what we are seeing. Simply defined, a cute object is typically one that resembles a baby human or animal. Anthropomorphism, a strategy used since antiquity to make others, including gods, more relatable to humans, is key to cuteness’s effectiveness and requires very little to be successful. The gesture of a face combined with soft textures, rounded forms and cheerful colors produces a tender and vulnerable feeling that inspires the desire to care for and protect. Cute objects are compelling because they are approachable, but, more importantly, because they can be possessed.

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