Thursday Jan 23, 2003

Inside Outside Art

The label “outsider art” continues to be bandied about as is “fine art”—two unfortunate terms for original work.

British art historian Roger Cardinal first used “outsider art” in 1972 to describe French artist Jean Dubuffet’s collection of art brut (or “raw art”). Starting in the 1940’s, Dubuffet visited asylums in Switzerland and collected artwork by the patients that he encountered. Dubuffet was convinced art brut resided unfettered within the works of children, criminals, and madmen. He felt, for the most part, that such work was immune from being tainted by the popular culture. Dubuffet’s own childlike artwork speaks clearly about art and the source of originality.

Does one have to be in a mental institution to produce honest work? Of course, this is nonsense.

It is also true that art from the heart and soul heals.

In recent years the term “outsider art” has expanded to include work by “self-taught, visionary and intuitive artist.” Are these separate labels or essential parts of the true artist?

Mixing the sane with the insane in a brew of passionate creation with obsessive compulsive work is absurd. Unfortunately, we live in a society more enamored of the disturbed, than the healthy. Look around and prove it to your self.

Keep the following in mind and you will be on safe ground: All true artists are intuitive, self-taught, outsider artists.

The compartmentalizing of art in catchy categories is misleading to the public, and mostly propagandized by the art marketers who are looking for the next big thing.»

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