History of SELF-TAUGHT
& OUTSIDER ART

Maurice Tuchman, introduction to Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art, exhibition catalogue by Maurice Tuchman and Carol S. Eliel (1992, Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

The lineage of outsider-influenced modern artists in Parallel Visions [an exhibition that toured internationally in 1992-1993 and was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art] runs from Paul Klee to Gregory Amenoff. Klee’s interest in outsider productions can be traced to 1912, when, in a review of a Der blaue Reiter (The blue rider) exhibition, he urged the public to take the art of children and the mad seriously.[1] He also found confirmation of his own creations in the works collected by Dr. Hans Prinzhorn and reproduced in his book Bildnerei der Geisteskranken (Artistry of the mentally ill), 1922, which was in circulation at the Bauhaus.[2] In these works Klee discerned "depth and power of expression….Really sublime art. Direct spiritual vision."[3] ...


Decades after Dubuffet’s ground-breaking assertion that art brut was to be preferred over the cultural arts, Roger Cardinal sought to further define art brut and settled on the term outsider art for his book published in 1972.[4] In a letter to Seymour Rosen, Cardinal recounted his odyssey in search of usable terminology:

Many terms have been used which allude to the creator’s social or mental status – isolate art, maverick art, outsider art, folk art, visionary art, inspired art, schizophrenic art. This seems unsatisfactory in as much as not every creator we want to recognize fits so readily into a social or psychological category. I feel strongly that to label works in a way that stresses the eccentricity or oddness of their maker tends to divert attention from aesthetic impact onto the biographies...."




[1] Paul Klee, Diaries of Paul Klee, 1898-1918 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1964), 266.

[2] Hans Prinzhorn, Bildnerie der Geisteskranken (Berlin: Springer, 1922; reprint, Berlin: Springer, 1968). Published in English as Artistry of the Mentally Ill: A Contribution to the Psychology and Psychopathology of Configuration, trans. Eric von Brockdorff (New York: Springer, 1972).

[3] Felix Klee, Paul Klee (New York: Braziller, 1962), 183.

[4] Roger Cardinal, Outsider Art, (New York: Praeger, 1972), 9.



Excerpt source:
Maurice Tuchman, introduction to Parallel Visions: Modern Artists and Outsider Art, exhibition catalogue by Maurice Tuchman and Carol S. Eliel (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Princeton University Press, 1992), 11.


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Anthony J. Petullo
Self-Taught and Outsider Art:
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