It was probably 20 years later that I learned that there were dealers and collectors who concentrated on this specific field. It didn’t really register with me even after the renowned show manager, Sanford Smith, organized the first Outsider Art Fair in New York in 1993.
Finally, my curiosity was piqued when my friend and colleague the drawings and print dealer, Emanuel von Baeyer told me that he was also buying “Outsider Art”. I decided to find out for myself what this field was all about. I visited the recent Sanford Smith Outsider Art Fair which is now held in a New York office b
Some of what I saw reminded me of Dubuffet, which I guess is not surprising since the term Outsider Art started with him. I believe his concept was summed up in a quote of his p
The style is totally international. I noticed dealers from England, France, Japan as well as across the United States including Chattanooga Tennessee. I found all media and styles, but much of the work seemed to have an affinity for African art, although that was by no means a criterion. One Haitian artist recycled an oil drum to make the most fabulous large screen depicting in the center “the King and Queen”.
As I wandered through I kept thinking of well known established artists who would fit some of the criteria for Outsider Art. Van Gogh famously spent time in the insane asylum at St. Remy. Grandma Moses was certainly self-taught. Many Native American and Hispanic artists use found objects such as tin cans, bottle caps or computer boards to create their art. Many of them have not joined the scramble to produce what their dealers or clients want them to do.
I have come to the conclusion, not surprisingly, that art is art, and some Outsider Art is wonderful, but the term is just another attempt by the art world to pigeonhole a style and thereby make it respectable and marketable.