What is Outsider Art?

Outsider Art

The term ‘outsider art’ was coined by art critic Roger Cardinal in 1972 as an English equivalent to Jean Dubuffet’s Art Brut. Dubuffet’s original Art Brut referred to works untouched or uncooked by mainstream culture. The works were seen to be unique and original, and the creators were seen to exist outside established culture and society. The term outsider art morphed into something bigger than this, and is more of an umbrella term for different styles and creators working outside of the mainstream art world for various reasons.

Some of the more well-known outsider artists from around the world include:

Henry Darger
Adolf Wolfli
Aloise Corbaz
Madge Gill (one piece of work in the Pallant House Gallery Collection)

Outside In’s relation to outsider art

Although Outside In does not explicitly focus on outsider art or work with outsider artists, the process and dedication of many of the artists represented on the project’s website has an affinity with that of ‘traditional’ outsider artists (as defined by Roger Cardinal in1972 and Jean Dubuffet in the 1940s).

Further reading

For more information on outsider art, there are several very good books on the subject. We would suggest the following:

Raw Creation: Outsider Art and Beyond by John Maizels
Outsider Art: Spontaneous Alternatives by Colin Rhodes
Outsider Art: from Margins to the Marketplace by David Maclagan
Outsider Art by Roger Cardinal
How to Look at Outsider Art by Lyle Rexer
Groundwaters: a Century of Self-Taught and Outsider Artists by Charles Russell

Additionally, Raw Vision Magazine, the only international journal on the art of ‘unknown geniuses’, is a great quarterly resource on the subject.

Further information

The following websites and organisations will provide you with some further information on outsider art:

Raw Vision Magazine
Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne

Images: Linda Bell, Cat and Dog, Ronald, Animal, Michael George, Dusk at Anchor, Yap, Untitled (Drawn with Eyes Closed)