This is a question i am asked often. Usually, i sort of look slanty-eyed at the person asking it, as though they are saying “are you sure you’re an outsider artist?” Though they never mean it that way - it’s a genuine question. “What is an outsider artist? You’re a folk artist!”
It’s a good question. The answer is sort of a funny one. My definition is someone who doesn’t fit in. That can mean socially, but i mean it more in terms of genre. Where would you put my mules? They’re not part of a movement, they’re not fine art. They don’t fit in neatly anywhere, and as someone said recently, outsider art is “art with an accent.” Love that idea. Art that is distinctly of that person and their own little outside current from the river, making their own art-creek. Upon investigation, i am still probably wrong. Not sure where my mules belong.
But so much for my flourishy folky explanation. There are a lot of terms that can be used almost interchangeably. Folk, naive, outsider, art brut, raw art. All essentially terms to describe someone who is making art outside of the Art World. They don’t necessarily show at galleries, or even show their art to anyone else, or call what they’re making art. These are the definitions but the gist is, outsider art and folk art are nearly the same, and generally refers to people who did not go to school to learn how to draw. There is a BA in art studio to my name, but i don’t think the handful of painting classes i took taught me how to paint - i had never used acrylics before college - and i still ain’t understand them now!
“Art produced by self-taught artists who are not part of the artistic establishment.
Self-taught or naive art makers with little or no contact with the main stream art world of their institutions. They may exhibit extreme mental states, unconventional ideas or create elaborate fantasy worlds.”
This term is used in European countries to define art made in the context of folk culture; clothes, toys, cookware, jewelry- Mexico’s alebrijes are a good example. More commonly over here, it is used to describe untrained or artists, whose work is shaped by experience and not by formal art training. They may make art with what they have on hand, like Howard Finster - house paint, old wood, car doors, bicycle grease. Algiers, Louisiana, has the Folk Art Zone as maintained by artist Charles Gilliam. He makes art out of wood that has washed up out of the Mississippi river near his house.
Examples include Henry Darger, James Hampton, Annie Hooper, Leonard Knight, Howard Finster, Charles Gilliam, Missionary Mary, CM Laster, Butch Anthony, Clementine Hunter.
Art Brut or Raw Art:
Art Brut is the French term for outsider art, first coined in 1948. “Work created in solitude and from pure and authentic impulses-where the worries of competition, acclaim and social promotion do not interfere.” - Jean Debuffet.
“Raw because it is 'uncooked' or 'unadulterated' by culture. Raw because it is creation in its most direct and uninhibited form. Not only were the works unique and original but their creators were seen to exist outside established culture and society. The purest of Art Brut creators would not consider themselves artists, nor would they even feel that they were producing art at all.” - https://rawvision.com/about/what-is-outsider-art
Examples include: Bill Traylor, Adolf Wolfi
Naive Art: “Simple, unaffected and unsophisticated - usually specifically refers to art made by artists with no formal training.” - the Tate.
”The definition of the term, and its "borders" with neighboring terms such as folk art and outsider art, has been a matter of some controversy. Naïve art is a term usually used for the forms of fine art, such as paintings and sculptures, but made by a self-taught artist, while objects with a practical use come under folk art. But this distinction has been disputed. Another term that may be used, especially of paintings and architecture, is "provincial", essentially used for work by artists who had received some conventional training, but whose work unintentionally falls short of metropolitan or court standards.“ - wikipedia.
Artists include: Maria Prymachenko, Grandma Moses, Henri Rousseau, Horace Pippin.
This was written back in August, and after a review i suppose y’all can see it. Be interested to know what y’all think. The heck is outsider art anyhow?