The work of Dr. Morganthaler documented his patient Adolf Wolfli, a genius who produced countless thousands of works from a small cell in his Swiss asylum. Dr Hans Prinzhorn collected thousands of works by psychiatric patients and his book "Bildernerei der Geisteskranken" (Artistry of the Mentally Ill), published in 1922 became an influential work amongst Surrealist and other artists of the time.
One artist who was particularly affected by the works Prinzhorn presented was Jean Dubuffet. Together with others, including Andre Breton, he formed the Compagnie de l'Art Brut in 1948 and strove to seek out and collect works of extreme individuality and inventiveness by creators who were not only untrained artists but often had little concept of an art gallery or even any other forms of art other than their own.
Dubuffet's concept of Art Brut, or Raw Art, was of works that were in their "raw" state, uncooked by cultural and artistic influences. He built up a vast collection of thousands of works, works which bore no relation to developments in contemporary art and yet were the innovative and powerful expressions of a wide range individuals from a variety of backgrounds.
Dubuffet's great collection was eventually granted a permanent home by the city of Lausanne and the Collection de l'Art Brut is now one of the most powerful and overwhelming art museums to be found anywhere in the world.
A parallel development to the awareness of paintings, drawings and sculptures which fell into the sphere of Art Brut, was the discovery of environmental creations by a similar range of people. One of the most famous of these, the Palais Ideal, built by the postman Cheval, received much attention from the Surrealists who admired his ability to realise his dream in this incredible structure, the product of thirty years of devoted toil.
In Los Angeles, the extraordinary Watts Towers, the product of a similar commitment by an Italian immigrant worker, Simon Rodia, became the first step in the realisation of a vast number of environments to be found right across North America.
Today the increased awareness of all these forms of expression has led to a network of small organisations in both Europe and the United States devoted to the preservation of such works and the support of their creators. Similar collections to the one in Lausanne have been established in many countries and exhibitions of different aspects of the phenonema are a regular occurence. The diverse influence of all these forms is now apparent in the work of an increasing number of "trained " artists who have turned their back on changing trends and fashions to try and form a truly singular reality for themselves.
Michel Thevoz, Curator of the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne has written the following: "Art Brut", or "outsider art", consists of works produced by people who for various reasons have not been culturally indocrinated or socially conditioned. They are all kinds of dwellers on the fringes of society. Working outside fine art "system" (schools, galleries, museums and so on), these people have produced, from the depths of their own personalities and for themselves and no one else, works of outstanding originality in concept, subject and techniques. They are works which owe nothing to tradition or fashion.
A firm distinction should be made between "art brut" and what is known as "naif art". The naif or primitive painters remain within the mainstream of painting proper, even if they fail ingenuously to practise its style. However, they accept its subjects, technique (generally oils) and even its values, because they hope for public, if not official recognition. "Art brut" artists, on the other hand, make up their own techniques, often with new means and materials and they create their works for their own use, as a kind of private theatre. They choose subjects which are often enigmatic and they do not care about the good opinion of others, even keeping their work secret.
Simpsons - _Mom & Pop Art_ (asf)(78.8megs)
Astrid (voice by Isabella Rossellini): Your husband's
work is what we call "outsider art". It could be by a mental
patient, or a hillbilly, or a chimpanzee.
Homer: [gasps] In high school I was voted most likely to *be* a mental patient, hillbilly, or chimpanzee!
Astrid: Well, you should be very excited because outsider art couldn't be hotter.
Homer: So you'd better catch the fever! [shakes fist at Bart] Catch it!