Thursday, January 24, 2019

Outsider Art Fair

In New York, the first relevant fair of the new year is the January Outsider Art Fair, which I eagerly attend as a visitor, but also hoping to find my identity as artist. I am not sure of being an outsider, considering that my doctoral degree is in Art and Education—yet in my art practice I have mainly used media and languages often outside more traditional art. And if not outsider, I am definitely unrecognized.

The definition outsider art was introduced by the art historian Roger Cardinal in 1972, as an English term for ‘Art Brut’ by French artist Jean Dubuffet. In a later article Cardinal wrote:
Outsider Art (art brut) is defined as a mode of original artistic expression which thrives on its independence, shunning the public sphere and the art market. Such art can be highly idiosyncratic and secretive, and reflects the individual creator's attempt to construct a coherent, albeit strange, private world. Certain practitioners of what may be termed autistic art are examined in the light of this definition; their work is considered as evidence not of a medical condition but of an expressive intentionality entirely worthy of the interest of those drawn to the aesthetic experience. [1]
Often defined as 'self-taught" or naïve art, Outsider Art includes art created outside the "official" art production. Cardinal's use of the term "autistic" is particular relevant given the common association between what is considered mental illness, or disability, and creative expression.

The Outsider Art Fair was founded in 1993 by  Sanford L. Smith and held at the Metropolitan Pavilion Originally showing just 25 exhibitors, the fair has greatly expanded to include 66 galleries in the current edition.

 In the contemporary art discourse the boundaries of "outsider art" often blur into conceptual or installation art. Often artists whose cutting edge work exhibit architectural or multidisciplinary content are considered part of the outsider art world—the late Paul Laffoley comes to mind.Yet the Outsider Art fair has become the main rendezvous for artist, galleries and collectors outside the most commercial and elitist venues.

Below a few snapshot of my favorite works from the 2019 edition of the Outsider Fair. To be continued...

Work by late artist James Edward Deeds presented by Adler & Hirsh 

Finally one of the most important aspect of Outsider Art, as 

1. Cardinal, Roger. "Outsider Art and the autistic creator." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences 364, no. 1522 (2009): 1459-1466.