The term ‘Outsider Art’ was introduced as the title of Roger Cardinal’s book in 1972 and was originally intended to act as an exact English equivalent to Dubuffet’s term, Art Brut, meaning ‘raw art’, although from the outset, it encompassed not only Art Brut but also works in the Neuve Invention category. Over the years it has been used increasingly loosely defined and can often now refer to any artist who is untrained or with disabilities or suffering social exclusion, whatever the nature of their work.
More recently, Outsider Art has become a catchall phrase for everything that is raw, untutored, and extreme in art. It has grown from being the hobby of a few collectors to a movement of significant importance in the art world, and is on the verge of being integrated into the contemporary art mainstream. However, many aficionados can’t say precisely what Outsider Art is or identify the best artists.
And that is just the way outsiders like it. Unfettered by rules or the opinions of others, these artists most often paint for themselves and anyone trying to explain why they paint will likely uncover more inexplicable compulsions than understandable reasons.
It is best, I think, to let these examples speak for themselves.
I’m sure I have not come close to answering my opening questions, but I do hope I have engaged your curiosity and that you will find this genre too stubborn to definitively categorize.
And a few of my own works…