Outsider art - creative arts outside the mainstream
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Outsider art – creative arts outside the mainstream

What is Outsider Art?

Outsider Art is the term used to refer Art creations created by people outside the mainstream.

The term “Outsider Art” was coined in 1972 by Roger Cardinal, an English art critic, as an English word equivalent to the term “Art Brut” in French by Jean Dubuffet (1901 – 1985, artist and artist. sculptor French) poses, refers to works of art that don’t follow patterns, art rules, or schools of art.

In English, “Outsider” means an outsider, a person who cannot join, someone who is not in the same profession or has no expertise. Outsider Art includes works of self-learners, including those of alcoholics, crazy people or mentally ill people.

Most of the Outsider artists are people who have never had any connection with the academy, the mainstream arts, or art organizations. However, some of the artists who were classified in Outsider Art also attended the Academy of Arts, but later became mentally ill and they composed art in the asylum. In many cases, their art is only noticed or discovered after death.


The Fairy Feller’s Master – Stroke, the most famous work of Richard Dadd (1817 – 1886), the British painter with paranoia. This is Dadd’s picturesque fairy tale inspired by the Queen of England’s song of the same name.


The defining characteristics of an outsider art work are strange ideas are somewhat bizarre, contrary to common sense, images of an illusionary world, and above all, intense mental state. revealed through the work.


History of Outsider art

Outsider art is inspired by the collection of patient works at mental hospitals in Europe in the nineteenth century for research and medical analysis. It was not until the early twentieth century that Western pioneers turned away from the traditional aesthetic values ​​of classical academic art, seeking new ways of expression of these collections to be noticed below. artistic perspective.

A pioneer in the study of patient collections from an artistic perspective is Swiss psychologist Walter Morgenthaler, with analysis of Adolf Wölfli – a mental patient considered to be the first artist. Outsider’s art.


Composition of Adolf Wölfli fascinated to every detail


Since the 1940s Jean Dubuffet (1901 – 1985, French painter, sculptor) tried to collect the works of self-learners, mental patients, alcoholics, prisoners and showed their intrinsic aesthetic value. , and came up with the term Art Brut.

Dubuffet and Art Brut – Origin of Outsider Art

In French “Brut” means “to live”, to be “rustic”, “raw” and “raw”. From that Art Brut means “raw art”, “living art” or “raw art”., only the creation in the direct form, creating images from the mind on the page, or canvas and Dubuffet likens the raw materials to unprocessed materials, retaining the freshness.

Dubuffet’s works in the Art Brut genre are all unconscious creativity based on inspiration from the spiritual world, not based on tradition or technology. It does not follow any art style or trend but is spontaneous and not even done for the purpose of making “art.” Art Brut is pure creations, born from the loneliness, the impulses of the unconscious world, where there is no interference from the usual worries of praise, or acclaim in contests. According to Dubuffet, truth is more valuable than the work of experts and the mainstream art of museums, academies has lost the power and pure art source from the truth.


“Arab Palm trees” – an outsider art work by Jean Dubuffet


More than just painting, Dubuffet also developed his concept in incredible sculptures



“Room of my dreams” – a massive construction that brings exciting interaction of Dubuffet

Since the stir of Dubuffet, Europe and North America became the focus of research on Outsider Art. This work is motivated not only by art researchers but also by curators and art dealers. Outsider Art is increasingly being appreciated by modern collectors, even hanging in the mainstream museum. In 2008, the University of Sydney established the Self-Taught and Outsider Art Research Collection (STOARC). So far this is the only international center for artistic research outside the mainstream.

The beauty of art Outsider

The first artists of Outsider art are those who have extraordinary experiences in life or extreme mental states such as mental people, people with disabilities, or prisoners but have the potential for artistic creation. . They come to painting and sculpture because of their strong drive and not the desire to be recognized. Their art is the expression of hidden desires and inner contradictions. It is not extroverted but introverted. It emerges from the imagination and memories of mental patients or crazy people, disrupting conscious efforts and rejecting the immutable notion or artistic intent. Works of this genre can be likened to an exploration into the inner world.

The spontaneity, unusual ideas and expressions, and their particular sensitivity to the world around them, the compulsive touches, emotions and reactions that make up the irresistible beauty and charisma again of Outsider art.


An illustration of Henry Darger (1892 – 1973) for the legendary story of the seven Vivian sisters by himself. Darger is one of the artists outside the most important mainstream of the twentieth century. Despite being a mental patient and having never stepped into the Henry Darger Museum of Illustrations illustrating the best of Outsider art, with the intimate connection to popular culture when Darger was inspired for stories from events and photos of newspapers and magazines.


Eighteen-acre stone garden project in Chandigarh, India, by self-taught artist Nek Chan, with unique stone sculptures


In addition to innovations that go beyond the conventional arts limits with stone and cement, Nek Chan makes his project one of the world’s largest recycling programs for large numbers of animals and animals. dolls from cloth and old clothes

Not only with materials from urban waste, Nek Chan has also created sculptures from the roots of trees

Influence of Outsider art

Pioneering artists of modern art such as Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Oskar Schlemmer, Alfred Kubin, André Breton, Paul Klee, Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso all refer to the paintings collection of Heidelberg mental hospital. Motifs from the original art heritage, the innocence of children’s paintings, the strange sighting found only in dreams and the unconscious world … the main themes of visual arts in the early twentieth century influenced by early works of Outsider Art.

Along with the strong impact of modernism on world art, Outsider art is not only limited to the non-professional works of self-taught artists but has become a new inspiration for expressions for many professional artist “Insider”. Many conservative opinions that explain this phenomenon affirm that the artists of the mainstream arts are not interested in art from the madness, paranoia, but the myths themselves. they want to exploit.

An Outsider art with quilting quilting and acrylic painting


The combination of wool, rush and acrylic colors in a modern exhibition has a strong impression of Outsider art


Outsider art in photography

So far, Outsider art is considered one of the factors that make post-modernism besides new concepts such as Anti art (anti-art), trend of Pop art, Post-minimalism Postminimalism art, …..

Here, invite you to admire some works and applications of modern art Outsider

An Outsider art work using collage shaping techniques


A number of works are displayed in the Outsider art exhibition in New York



Decorative motifs imprinted with the impression of Outsider art


Outsider art in architecture and installation art is full of ways


Hang Nga mansion in Dalat is often known as the “Crazy House” – famous for its unique architecture, with the idea of ​​Outsider art is shown in bold

Despite conflicting opinions about the position of the Outsider art in the formal art system, this form of inner artistic expression has contributed greatly to the flow of modern and postmodern art. , where academic metaphors and norms make way for an expression of “more genuine and more human”, rudimentary and intense – urgently echoing in the artist’s soul.

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