Free from the rational demands of formal training, the artists use what they can find to make what they need to make.. Their completely original artwork is untouched by opinions about what is "good" or "not good" art. Uncooked by academic imperatives, their art is "raw".. The artists use color intuitively, not feeling the need to represent what other people see. They shape their highly individual visions straight from their private heart.

"Outsiders" are marginalized by society for one reason or another: poverty, race, emotional or mental issues. There have been many attempts at definition.

TERENCE DALTON is currently in a residential program in a private clinic in NW Florida.

He has been painting since 1971. His artwork shares outsider sensibilities, but he quotes Aldus Huxley, thus his work cannot be neatly categorized. He is a complex stranger in a strange land.


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.

Raw art, uncooked by convention, is prized for just that reason.

Outsider Art refers to art created by self taught individuals outside the mainstream. Uneducated in Art and unfamiliar with the artist/gallery relationship, certain people spontaneously begin to make art. In many cases a traumatic experience leads to visual expression. The resulting images are completely original, uncooked, raw revelations of personal life experiences. This unveiled imagery is childlike, naive, and regarded by collectors as a more authentic approach to truth of Art. Many 20th century artists studied the work of outsiders and many 21st century artists have incorporated outsider elements. 

"The term ‘Outsider Art’ was first used by Roger Cardinal, author of the first English language book on this subject. This was an effort to define the French expression l’Art Brut which was originated by artist Jean Dubuffet when he was introduced to work created by patients in mental institutions. It is now widely accepted among art writers and historians as the chosen definition for work which has been created by artists that meet a number of criteria including, self taught, compulsive, visionary and often those who have had mental health issues.

The definition "Art Extraordinary" was devised in order to reduce the potential alienation felt by those labeled ‘Outsider’. The focus of the term was shifted from the artists to the works they created often in ‘extraordinary’ materials or of ‘extraordinary’ visionary subjects. The term Art Extraordinary highlights the achievements of the artists rather than the obstacles they face." Wikipedia.

Of course, the creative impulse crosses all the lines drawn by art critics, historians, and writers. Categories such as Outsider, Folk, Art Brut, Visionary, Naive, Primitive, and so on, only have relevance so we can talk about the artform, the anti-thesis of mainstream art. Jargon is only necessary to the critique of art, to the dialogue, the conversation.

That is another art form altogether and should not be confused with the art itself.

Self-taught artists, working in isolation, are making art having no interest in, or exposure to, the defintions and attributes we create. Indeed, trying to make certain artists fit into a certain category and stay there, has caused ridiculous ravings about "an outsider artist is no longer an outsider artist" when they begin showing their work in commercial galleries. I would say that an artist is born that way, whether they have a disability or not.

Eileen West






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