I’m so moved.
The images are spectacular.
I remember seeing an exhibit of ‘outsider art’ in college. The assignment was to write a paper about one of the featured artists. The one that connected with me was a painter who did Grandma Moses-style paintings about his childhood hometown, which had been bought out and destroyed by a mining company. The only records of the town now are in his paintings; he was already quite elderly when the exhibit was shown.
Categorising art by the artist’s position in society, rather than anything to do with their practice or the work itself, is by definition more a comment on the person doing the categorising.
“Outsider art” doesn’t just mean you didn’t go to art school. That would encompass stuff like “street art” and decorative art, which is not what people typically mean (because those things still happen within a social niche, where you have relationships and regular meals and such). What “outsider” implies is that the maker is driven by some form of pathology, like an overriding compulsion to draw circles or whatever.
And that’s true of plenty of “real” artists as well. The difference is, if you’re wired into the art world from the start – and your work sells – then you get a support framework that lets you exorcise your creative demons and be somewhat respected within above-ground society.
Something feels a bit off about this label existing, because it means gobshites like [name redacted] and [name redacted] can be superstar millionaires in their twenties, while modern William Blakes are shunned their whole lives, and then when they die, polite society gets to retcon that it respected them as artists all along, which it pointedly didn’t.
Still, it’s not mainly a language problem, it’s a society-is-quick-to-throw-people-in-the-trash problem.
What is the cover image from the post? I didn’t see it in the video.
Lens tells me it’s Madge Gill.
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