History of SELF-TAUGHT
& OUTSIDER ART

Roger Cardinal, “Worlds Within,” Inner Worlds Outside exhibition catalogue (2006)

Nonetheless, having conceded that Outsiders do not invent everything ex nihilo, I must return to my theme with vigour, stressing that it is the use made of the material that matters, not the source per se. Imagining means taking hold of certain perceptions, images or ideas that have entered consciousness from outside and recycling them in original patterns and juxtapositions. By definition, no Outsider of stature will wish to bow to an external authority. Having once adopted a motif, he or she will want to implement it within their personal scheme, stripping it of its old associations and investing it with fresh meaning. In the end, Willem van Genk’s exhilarating multi-perspectival renderings of Amsterdam, New York or Moscow have as much documentary value as Yoakum’s fanciful renderings of the Andes or the Holy Land. In a superficial sense, their iconography could be said to be indebted to reality; but it is more pertinent to say that the real has been appropriated and converted into a property of the imagination, equating to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s idea of the painting which offers us a glimpse of ‘what is woven within interiority, the imaginary texture of the real’. [1]



[1] Maurice Merleau-Ponty, L’Oeil et l’espirit (Paris: Gallimard, 1985), 24.


Excerpt source:

Roger Cardinal, “Worlds Within,” Inner Worlds Outside exhibition catalogue (Fundación “la Caixa”; Irish Museum of Modern Art; Whitechapel Gallery, London; 2006), 24-25


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Anthony J. Petullo
Self-Taught and Outsider Art:
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