A brief history of Outsider Art:
Outsider Art really experienced its ‘Golden Age’ between the years of 1880 and 1930 and traditionally encompasses works created by individuals who are marginalised from society for numerous different reasons. Outsider Art is technically free from the restraints of society with many of those who are considered ‘Outsiders’ having taught themselves how to create art. Art that can be described as Outsider is generally created with the absence of intention or preparation.
Roger Cardinal coined the term ‘Outsider Art’ after Jean Dubuffet’s labelling of it as ‘Art Brut’ or Raw Art. Cardinal himself describes Outsider Art as an umbrella term for works that are alien to established culture, although, he is keen to mention that because a work of art is alien to established culture, it does by no means imply it is inferior to the celebrated art of mainstream society.
A brief introduction to the site/blog
kdoutsiderart.com focuses on showcasing the work of marginalised artists/Outsider Artists and brings you discussions around the ambiguous and broad definition of the term Outsider Art and other themes related to it. Additionally, you will find exhibition reviews and news about upcoming events as well as guest posts by others who are interested in this field of art. You can find out more about other institutions and organisations worldwide working to promote Outsider Art over on the Links page.
About Kate Davey (Founder and Editor)
I finished an MA in Art History and Museum Curating in 2012, having written my dissertation on the difficulties that face curators of exhibitions that focus on the subject, and my BA Hons dissertation on the links between German Expressionism and Outsider Art. I have previously worked for the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, Creative Future, and Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – all organisations that support and promote the work of those facing barriers to the art world for health reasons or because of social circumstances.
I am currently the Training Programme Manager at Outside In, with responsibility for the strategic overview and delivery of our training and professional development programme specifically aimed at artists facing barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation. Additionally, I write reviews and articles for various publications including Raw Vision Magazine, as well as more focused pieces on specific artists for projects or contextual material.
I am currently studying for a PhD, focusing on the ‘rise of outsider art in the mainstream art world.’ My research asks whether there really is a level playing field in the art world regardless of an artist’s background or barriers. Some posts on this blog specifically relate to my research – you can find them here. If you would like to know more about my research, or would like to contribute, please feel free to get in touch!
If you are an artist and would like a dedicated post on your work, please get in touch. You can see previous ‘Artist Showcases’ here.
I am always interested to hear from people on the subject of ‘outsider art’, so please feel free to get in touch. Likewise, if there is something specific you would like to see in this blog, or you have any queries on any of my posts, please do contact:
Or leave a comment!
6 thoughts on “About”
Great site Kate, thanks for sharing these artists and looking forward to future posts.
Many thanks for your comments! I’m glad you’re enjoying the site as well. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see on here.
This is a wonderful blog. I recently began blogging for the first time, being an artist myself, and this kind of art, pure in its intention and realization, makes me shiver with an excitement and delight I don’t feel looking at other kinds of art. I myself am disillusioned with with the so-called mainstream art world and have been for a long time. It’s the intellectual pretension and self-importance which nauseates me, the elusive snobbery of it. You bring up the interesting question of voyeurism in the displaying of the work of a so-called outsider. It seems sometimes that the “outsider” artist is treated like some rare species of animal being studied by anthropologists. But the heart is involved from the individual’s point of view, the one who makes the work (preceding the term “outsider”). The creative act is not like going to the bathroom, needing for decency’s sake to be done behind a closed door. Though many mainstream artists seem to masturbate out in the open while staring at themselves in a mirror. But in all art, even in its perversions, there’s an intrinsic longing to connect, a longing to share; there are just various routes to the heart connection. Indeed there are artists who flirt with oblivion, tightrope-walking over the abyss and telling no one about the attempt, but only giving an indication, leaving little clues. But I’d argue that the longing to be found out is still in it, the secret desire for someone off to the side to have a camera rolling to record and document the tightrope-walking attempt. A lot of pretending goes on in so-called outsider artists too, the whole idea of being untouched and raw and in untrammeled territory all the time. There are artists who buy into the mythos and romanticism of the so-called outsider artist, and play the game in self-presentation. What nauseates me about mainstream conceptual art may be making its way into the genre that has become “outsider art.” Then comes the process of trying to weed out the chameleons of being from those who are the real deal. I think it will always be a problem. I think the question may be less about voyeurism and more about exploitation. When is an artist being exploited, treated like a circus sideshow freak, and when is the artist treated with respect and sympathy as a fellow human being who has done something unique and marvelous. I think you are doing a great service with your blog.
Thanks so much for your comment, John. I absolutely agree – I think it was my disillusion with the ‘mainstream’ art world (particularly whilst studying for a degree and an MA in Art History of all things) that really drew me to this kind of art. Not to say that I don’t appreciate what artists both past and present have done and are doing, but it was more about finding out for myself what I thought the meaning of art really was (the eternal question!) The idea that I kept returning to was this idea of art coming from within rather than being something that is influenced by fashion or other similar external influences, as well as the potential for anyone to create art or be creative. I had a look at your blog and your work is very fascinating! I look forward to seeing what you create next! and thanks again for your kind comments about the blog.
One thing that draws me to you is your sincere self-questioning regarding the terms under consideration. It’s really great how you go back and forth, how you openly sift and seek the truth. I don’t know you, but others must find it really refreshing having conversations with you, because you seem flexible and open and search not only with your mind and intellect, which it’s clear you have, but also with your heart. I myself am not so sure of the idea of creative potential in everyone, as you state. I don’t think everyone has it, though in theory one would love it to be true because if it was and it was put into practice society in general would be a better place. Catharsis is a reality, but many walking around are broken sinks and clogged toilets. The water does not flow and they stink. I approach this from a personal angle and I know from my own experience, I’m capable of producing a disgusting amount of dross and shit. I’m afraid to say it, but I think it’s the rule. I do think art is a rarity. It’s a crowned jewel on the head of the Divine. Art isn’t easy. But I’m speaking very strictly. Even in the so-called outsider artists, all the work isn’t good. I’m talking about the work itself. Much of it is deficient technically. What’s interesting many times is the glimpse into the out of the ordinary world that person inhabits. The art is a window, but it may be a window with fractured panes of glass painted over, the only view allowed through to the life inside being dried paint cracking from long exposure to the elements and the few shards of glass that have fallen out. But all this is as fascinating to me as it is to you. The link between madness and genius cannot be ignored, the drawing up of order out of the increasing cesspool we live in. I’m playing Devil’s Advocate a little here. I myself am in a search for the pure moment, which aligns itself with something greater than ourselves and bathes itself in eternity. The so-called outsider artist may very well be the carrier of the last vestiges of God who is dying, carrying it like a virus, carrying it like a hot coal which burns the soul.