Outsider art

Outsider art is art made by self-taught or supposedly naïve artists with typically little or no contact with the conventions of the art worlds. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.

Adolf Wölfli's Irren-Anstalt Band-Hain, 1910
Anna Zemánková, No title, 1960s

The term outsider art was coined in 1972 as the title of a book by art critic Roger Cardinal.[1] It is an English equivalent for art brut (French: [aʁ bʁyt], "raw art" or "rough art"), a label created in the 1940s by French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe art created outside the boundaries of official culture. Dubuffet focused particularly on art by those on the outside of the established art scene, using as examples psychiatric hospital patients, hermits, and spiritualists.[2][3]

Outsider art has emerged as a successful art marketing category; an annual Outsider Art Fair[4] has taken place in New York since 1993, and there are at least two regularly published journals dedicated to the subject. The term is sometimes misapplied as a catch-all marketing label for art created by people who are outside the mainstream "art world" or "art gallery system", regardless of their circumstances or the content of their work.[5] A more specific term, "outsider music", was later adapted for musicians.


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