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Outsider art : forty years out Rainaldi, Linda 2015

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OUTSIDER	ART—FORTY	YEARS	OUT		by		Linda	Rainaldi		B.A.,	The	University	of	British	Columbia,	1975	LL.B.,	The	University	of	British	Columbia,	1979		A	THESIS	SUBMITTED	IN	PARTIAL	FULFILLMENT	OF	THE	REQUIREMENTS	FOR	THE	DEGREE	OF		MASTER	OF	ARTS	in	THE	FACULTY	OF	GRADUATE	AND	POSTDOCTORAL	STUDIES	(Curriculum	and	Pedagogy,	Art	Education)		THE	UNIVERSITY	OF	BRITISH	COLUMBIA	(Vancouver)			December	2015		©	Linda	Rainaldi,	2015	 		ii	Abstract		French	artist	Jean	Dubuffet	delivered	an	anti-cultural	manifesto	in	the	1940s.	He	fought	against	the	status	quo	in	the	art	world	and	argued	against	the	traditions	of	art	history,	where	art	is	studied	in	the	context	of	its	historical	development	and	where	art	standards	are	the	result	of	cultural	conditioning	and	the	opinions	of	art	critics.	To	illustrate	his	thesis,	Dubuffet	went	on	to	create	an	art	collection,	which	he	called	art	brut,	from	artists	who	he	believed	were	not	influenced	by	culture	or	social	norms.	In	1972	Roger	Cardinal,	a	British	scholar,	wrote	a	book	about	art	brut,	calling	it	outsider	art.	Many	new	definitions	of	outsider	art	subsequently	evolved,	particularly	in	the	United	States,	and	there	has	been	little	agreement	on	the	definition	of	outsider	art	or	the	terminology	coined	to	describe	it.	This	thesis	examines	the	American	and	European	perspectives	on	outsider	art	and	suggests	the	underlying	biases,	ideologies,	and	social	factors	that	informed	the	definitions,	such	as	the	myths	surrounding	mental	illness,	movements	towards	social	inclusion,	and	movements	away	from	the	marginalizing	effect	of	labels.	As	outsider	art	gains	more	recognition	in	the	art	world,	some	defend	its	categorization	as	a	separate	genre	of	art	while	others	challenge	the	need	to	keep	it	separate	from	mainstream	art,	and	those	reasons	are	explored.	Finally,	it	is	suggested	that	there	may	be	little	value	in	attaching	labels	to	any	genre	of	art	because	every	definition	of	outsider	art	reflects	the	biases	and	personal	logic	of	its	author.	Dialogue	and	debate	are	encouraged	and	suggestions	for	continuing	research	are	outlined.	 		iii	Preface		Ethics	approval	for	this	research	was	granted	by	the	UBC	Behavioural	Research	Ethics	Board.	The	Ethics	Certificate	Number	is	Outsider	Art	H14-02811.			This	thesis	is	original,	unpublished,	independent	work	by	the	author,	Linda	Rainaldi.			 		iv	Table	of	Contents	Abstract	..............................................................................................................................	ii	Preface	..............................................................................................................................	iii	Table	of	Contents	...............................................................................................................	iv	Acknowledgements	...........................................................................................................	vii	Dedication	.......................................................................................................................	viii	Chapter	1:	Introduction	.......................................................................................................	1	Thesis	Inquiry	........................................................................................................................	1	Terminology	..........................................................................................................................	4	Chapter	2:	Literature	Review	...............................................................................................	6	Introduction	..........................................................................................................................	6	The	Creation	of	Art	Brut	.......................................................................................................	7	Image	making	................................................................................................................................	7	Reaction	to	institutional	art	..........................................................................................................	7	Challenging	the	status	quo	...........................................................................................................	8	Art	brut	.........................................................................................................................................	9	Beyond	Art	Brut	..................................................................................................................	11	Neuve	invention	..........................................................................................................................	12	Outsider	art	.................................................................................................................................	13	Self-taught	art	.............................................................................................................................	14	Visionary	or	intuitive	art	.............................................................................................................	14	Naïve	art	.....................................................................................................................................	14	 		v	Visionary	environments	..............................................................................................................	15	Folk	art	and	contemporary	folk	art	.............................................................................................	15	Marginal	art	and	art	singulier	.....................................................................................................	15	Defining	Outsider	Art	..........................................................................................................	15	The	expanding	definition	............................................................................................................	16	A	spectrum	of	“outsiderness”	.....................................................................................................	17	The	artist’s	biography	.................................................................................................................	18	Stylistic	indicators	.......................................................................................................................	18	The	artist’s	distance	from	mainstream	art	.................................................................................	20	Social	factors	and	marginalization	..............................................................................................	21	Chapter	3:	The	Search	for	Authenticity	..............................................................................	24	Introduction	........................................................................................................................	24	Authenticity	and	Mental	Illness	..........................................................................................	24	The	mad	genius	persona	.............................................................................................................	25	Overlapping	Concepts	and	Terminology	.............................................................................	29	Folk	Art	in	Europe	...............................................................................................................	30	Outsider	Art	in	Europe	........................................................................................................	31	United	States	......................................................................................................................	34	Folk	art	........................................................................................................................................	35	Outsider	art	becomes	self-taught	art	.........................................................................................	37	African-American	self-taught	art	from	the	South	.......................................................................	39	The	Search	for	Consistency	.................................................................................................	41	Chapter	4:	The	Inside	View	................................................................................................	43	 		vi	Introduction	........................................................................................................................	43	The	Artists	...........................................................................................................................	44	The	Art	Dealers	...................................................................................................................	53	Integrating	Multiple	Factors	...............................................................................................	59	Chapter	5:	What’s	In	a	Name?	...........................................................................................	60	Introduction	........................................................................................................................	60	Reconciling	Multiple	Views	.................................................................................................	60	Disintegration	or	Integration	of	Outsider	Art?	...................................................................	62	Keep	separate	categories	...........................................................................................................	62	Remove	the	boundary	................................................................................................................	62	Chapter	6:	Conclusion	.......................................................................................................	70	Research	Conclusions	.........................................................................................................	70	Educational	Opportunities	..................................................................................................	76	Topics	for	Further	Study	.....................................................................................................	78	References	........................................................................................................................	81		 		vii	Acknowledgements		I	extend	my	thanks	to	Rita	Irwin,	Dónal	O’Donoghue,	and	Michael	Parsons	for	their	support	and	guidance	in	the	preparation	of	this	thesis.	I	am	grateful	for	their	advice,	insightful	comments	and,	most	importantly,	for	asking	the	hard	questions.			 		viii	Dedication		For	Luca,	who	has	always	supported	my	dreams.		 		1	Chapter	1: Introduction	Thesis	Inquiry	Until	I	met	an	outsider	artist	about	20	years	ago,	I	believed	the	genre	of	art	brut	ended	when	Jean	Dubuffet	housed	his	eccentric	art	collection	in	a	European	museum.	That	coincidental	meeting	was	the	starting	point	of	my	journey—literally	and	academically—into	the	world	of	outsider	art	(as	it	is	now	called).	At	every	turn	I	marvelled	at	the	human	need	for	self-expression—to	invent	and	create	with	passion,	and	to	be	content	as	a	solitary	witness	to	the	process	and	the	outcome.	My	interest	took	me	to	outsider	art	exhibits	outside	Canada	and	led	me	to	discussions	with	art	dealers,	collectors,	and	curators	of	outsider	art	collections.	I	read	extensively	on	the	topic	and	met	with	the	artists	themselves.		I	looked	for	Canadian	outsider	artists	at	every	exhibit	and	found	none.	I	asked	American	experts	if	they	knew	of	any	Canadian	outsider	artists,	but	they	did	not.	In	turn,	they	asked	me	why	no	Canadian	outsider	artists	were	represented	at	public	exhibitions	and	I	was	unable	to	answer	that	question.	It	was	a	conundrum	that	I	felt	compelled	to	address.		I	learned	that	few	people	in	Canada	are	familiar	with	outsider	art.	I	felt	certain	that	outsider	exists	in	Canada,	but	that	perhaps	it	goes	by	a	different	name	or	was	included	in	the	category	of	folk	art.	I	searched	the	literature	but	found	no	evidence	of	either	theory.	Since	it	seemed	that	outsider	art	had	not	been	thoroughly	studied	in	Canada,	I	created	a	blog	in	2011	to	document	my	findings	and	to	connect	with	others	who	were	interested	in	the	field.	I	heard	from	both	Canadian	and	international	readers	who	were	curious	about	my	research.	I	gathered	a	considerable	amount	of	information	about	outsider	art	in	general	and	learned	of	several	artists	in	Canada;	unfortunately,	the	definition	of	outsider	art	was	still	 		2	unclear	to	me.	If	I	hoped	to	strengthen	my	understanding	and	appreciation	of	outsider	art	and	initiate	a	discussion	about	it	in	Canada,	it	was	important	for	me	to	learn	more	about	the	various	forms	of	outsider	art	and	the	labels	attached	to	them.		I	discovered	that	there	was	little	agreement	internationally	on	what	the	term	outsider	art	actually	encompassed	and	this	“term	warfare”	(Fine,	2004,	p.	26;	Zug,	1994,	p.	42)	proved	to	be	frustrating	and	confusing.	I	began	my	research	into	outsider	art	in	a	linguistic	maze.		My	desire	to	define	outsider	art	led	to	a	series	of	questions	that	required	an	answer:	Why	did	outsider	art	in	Europe	and	the	United	States	have	different	aesthetic	features?	Who	decides	what	labels	are	given	to	various	types	of	outsider	art?	And,	finally,	why	were	there	so	many	categories?		As	I	began	to	examine	these	issues,	it	appeared	that	the	terminology	debate	began	in	1972	when	Roger	Cardinal	published	a	book	about	art	brut,	but	named	the	book	Outsider	Art.	The	term	itself	was	vague,	allowing	more	possibilities	to	emerge,	particularly	in	English-	speaking	countries.	I	felt,	however,	that	the	terminology	dispute	had	to	be	based	on	something	more	than	the	labels	themselves,	for	that	would	not	likely	engender	such	dissention.	I	probed	deeper,	thinking	it	was	perhaps	rooted	in	the	complex	social	and	cultural	histories	of	the	populations	who	created	the	labels.		My	research	took	me	to	the	United	States	and	Europe,	and	both	offered	intriguing	perspectives	that	contributed	to	my	knowledge	of	the	genre.	The	roots	of	outsider	art	are	in	Europe:	the	Sammlung	Prinzhorn	museum	at	the	University	of	Heidelberg	houses	the	collection	that	inspired	Dubuffet’s	anti-cultural	manifesto	and	Dubuffet’s	personal	 		3	collection	is	on	view	at	the	Collection	de	l’Art	Brut	in	Lausanne.	The	European	collections	gave	me	both	an	historical	and	contextual	overview	of	the	genre	and,	most	importantly,	helped	me	appreciate	the	radical	thesis	that	Dubuffet	articulated	in	a	very	different	world	over	seven	decades	ago.	It	was	instructive	to	start	at	the	beginning	before	moving	into	the	contemporary	world	of	outsider	art.	Exploration	of	outsider	art	in	North	America	gave	me	a	fresh	perspective.	In	addition	to	the	ease	of	conversing	in	my	own	language,	I	witnessed	artists	at	work	on	their	projects,	did	an	internship	at	an	outsider	art	museum	in	Chicago,	attended	art	fairs,	and	spoke	in	depth	with	many	people	with	a	dedicated	interest	in	the	genre.	The	uniquely	American	perspective,	so	closely	tied	to	its	cultural	history,	prompted	me	to	consider	different	opinions	and	prepared	me	for	future	research	of	the	Canadian	landscape.	The	title	of	my	thesis—Outsider	Art:	Forty	Years	Out—references	the	status	of	outsider	art	forty	years	after	it	was	renamed.	The	task	before	me	is	to	articulate	my	own	understanding	of	outsider	art	and	how	that	might	be	expressed	to	a	new	audience	in	Canada	who,	in	my	experience,	share	commonalities	with	both	European	and	American	cultures.	Many	issues	have	come	to	light	during	my	research:	the	myth	of	the	mad	genius	is	one	example;	the	reality	of	social	marginalization	is	another.	And,	while	I	initially	accepted	that	the	subject	of	my	research	was	art,	I	was	forced	to	examine	that	assumption	at	several	junctures.	I	hope	my	research	will	resonate	with	the	outsider	art	community.	I	anticipate	that	it	will,	at	a	minimum,	contribute	to	the	international	dialogue	about	outsider	art	and	the	terminology	used	to	rationalize	its	categories.	It	will	shed	light	on	the	underlying	ideologies	 		4	that	inform	the	various	definitions	of	outsider	art;	at	best	it	may	illustrate	that	outsider	art	is	rooted	in	cultural,	social,	and	political	histories	that	are	difficult,	if	not	impossible,	to	reconcile.	Finally,	it	will	serve	as	the	groundwork	for	defining	outsider	art	in	Canada,	as	we	articulate	our	own	definition	of	the	genre.	This	thesis	asks	the	reader	to	reflect	on	the	biases,	prejudices,	and	assumptions	that	we	make	about	art	and	its	makers	and,	in	the	final	analysis,	whether	it	matters	what	art	is	called.	Terminology	One	of	the	main	difficulties	in	discussing	outsider	art	is	that	the	terminology	is	not	used	consistently.	Further,	there	is	little	agreement	as	to	how	certain	terms	are	defined.	For	the	sake	of	clarity	and	consistency,	I	have	used	particular	terminology	in	this	thesis,	as	described	below.	Dubuffet	coined	the	term	art	brut	in	the	1940s,	and	I	have	used	it	only	to	describe	work	in	his	original	collection.	Roger	Cardinal	coined	the	term	outsider	art	in	1972	as	the	English	translation	of	art	brut.	Outsider	art	is	a	term	commonly	used	in	the	international	art	world	and	I	have	used	it	as	a	generic	term	to	describe	all	forms	of	artwork	that	fall	under	its	umbrella.		The	term	outsider	art	has	fallen	out	of	use	in	the	United	States	in	favour	of	self-taught	art;	the	former	is	considered	to	be	a	pejorative	term	that	references	the	artist’s	position	in	society.	I	have,	however,	chosen	to	use	the	term	outsider	art	to	avoid	confusion	with	another	specific	category	called	‘self-taught	art.’	No	disrespect	is	intended.	Although	 		5	outsider	art	is	often	called	art	brut	in	Europe,	I	have	chosen	to	use	its	English	equivalent	for	the	sake	of	consistency.		All	other	art	is	referred	to	as	mainstream	art	unless	a	specific	genre	is	named.	Although	it	does	not	perfectly	describe	art	that	is	‘not	outsider	art’,	it	is	a	term	commonly	used	in	the	outsider	art	world.	 		6	Chapter	2: Literature	Review	Introduction	This	literature	review	traces	the	definition	of	outsider	art	from	the	time	art	brut	was	first	described	by	Jean	Dubuffet	in	the	1940s	to	its	expanded	definition	today.	The	history	of	art	brut,	and	the	collections	that	were	created,	have	been	explored	in	scholarly	publications.	However,	there	is	no	consensus	on	the	definition	and	boundaries	of	the	wider	category	of	outsider	art;	every	author	and	every	country	seems	to	have	defined	the	genre	in	a	different	way.	In	Europe,	for	example,	the	definition	of	outsider	art	has	remained	true	to	Dubuffet’s	definitions	of	art	brut	and	‘neuve	invention’	whereas	in	the	United	States,	the	definition	has	expanded	far	beyond	that.		Although	the	term	outsider	art	is	now	used	as	an	umbrella	phrase	to	describe	many	different	styles	of	art,	there	is	a	lively	debate	among	scholars	and	collectors	as	to	what	should	be	included	in	the	genre	and	what	should	not.	While	an	expansive	definition	of	outsider	art	may	enhance	the	richness	of	collections,	it	can	be	challenging	to	understand	why	artwork	has	been	deemed	appropriate	or	inappropriate	for	inclusion.	This	literature	review	begins	with	a	description	of	artwork	that	was	collected	at	a	psychiatric	institution	in	Germany,	reviews	the	historical	and	current	parameters	of	art	brut	and	outsider	art,	and	ends	with	a	discussion	of	whether	a	distinct	genre	is	even	relevant	in	the	art	market	today.		 		7	The	Creation	of	Art	Brut	Image	making	The	history	of	art	brut	(literally,	raw	or	uncooked	art)	began	with	a	small	collection	of	art	gathered	in	a	psychiatric	hospital	in	the	early	20th	century	(Cardinal,	1972).	Hans	Prinzhorn	(1886–1933),	an	art	historian	and	psychiatrist	at	the	University	of	Heidelberg,	argued	that	his	institutionalized	patients’	artwork	should	be	appreciated	for	its	own	merits	rather	than	being	examined	for	signs	of	mental	illness.	He	expanded	a	collection	of	art	created	by	his	predecessor	and	published	a	book	of	his	patients’	work.	In	his	view,	psychiatric	patients	did	not	have	the	freedom,	self-awareness,	or	skill	of	‘sane’	artists.	They	did,	however,	have	the	ability	to	see	into	new	worlds,	along	with	children	and	‘savages’	(Beveridge,	2001).	His	study	of	the	relationship	between	creativity	and	mental	illness	resulted	in	a	book;	Bildnerei	der	Geisteskranken	(generally	translated	as	Artistry	of	the	Mentally	Ill,	originally	published	in	1922),	was	a	study	of	art	produced	by	schizophrenic	patients	(Prinzhorn,	2011).	He	used	the	term	bildnerei	(image	making)	as	opposed	to	kunst	(art)	to	distinguish	the	patients’	creative	output	from	the	work	of	artists.		Reaction	to	institutional	art	Not	everyone	embraced	Prinzhorn’s	interest	in	his	patients’	art.	While	‘madness,’	to	some,	was	a	metaphor	for	total	freedom,	others	said	genius	is	a	form	of	moral	insanity	and	artists	are	innately	degenerate	types.	Psychiatrist	and	criminologist,	Cesare	Lombardo,	for	example,	argued	that	the	art	of	psychiatric	patients	indicates	a	return	to	an	earlier	stage	of	human	development	(Rhodes,	2000).		 		8	The	most	extreme	act	of	blocking	the	so-called	degenerative	influence	of	art	was	the	Nazi	movement	to	remove	modern	artists	and	curators	from	their	positions	in	the	art	world	(Peters,	2014).	A	degenerate	art	exhibition	put	together	by	the	Nazis	in	1937	displayed	the	work	of	modern	artists	(such	as	Picasso)	and	Prinzhorn’s	collection.	Degenerate	art	was	deemed	to	be	deplorable	because	it	did	not	represent	all	that	was	good	about	Germans	and	Nazi	Germany.	All	degenerate	art	was	removed	from	galleries	and	museums.	A	more	horrific	scene	followed	as	many	artists	disappeared	and	were	presumed	to	have	been	exterminated.	Interest	in	new	and	alternative	art	forms	was	squashed	(Peters,	2014).		Challenging	the	status	quo	Beyond	the	obvious	devastating	effects	of	WWI,	political,	cultural	and	social	norms	were	over-turned.	In	particular,	the	cultural	climate	in	Europe	after	the	war	was	receptive	to	new	ideas	or,	perhaps	more	accurately,	it	was	ready	to	reject	accepted	values	and	societal	norms.	Prinzhorn’s	book	had	been	circulating	within	the	art	community	in	France	for	some	years	and	fit	well	with	their	search	for	creative	authenticity.	Many	artists,	Dubuffet	in	particular,	argued	against	what	they	perceived	as	the	traditions	of	art	history,	claiming	that	art	is	studied	only	in	the	context	of	its	historical	development.	To	Dubuffet,	traditional	art	was	like	a	parlour	game	where	players	must	understand	a	secret	language	to	appreciate	the	artwork	(Glimcher,	1987,	p.	55).	It	“is	an	art	of	communication	in	which	the	grammar	and	syntax	are	agreed	upon	a	priori”	(Messer,	1986,	p.	27).	The	artist	knows	that	the	public	will	understand	him	directly	or	when	an	art	critic	has	interpreted	his	work.	The	critic	can	persuade	the	public	to	embrace	the	artist	by	relating	her	work	to	the	already	accepted	work	of	an	earlier	era	(Messer,	1986,	p.	27).	 		9	Dubuffet’s	agenda	was	two-fold:	to	subvert	and	expose	the	emptiness	of	conventional	modern	art	and	to	explode	the	traditional	solidarity	between	artist,	critic,	and	public.	In	his	view,	art	standards	are	the	result	of	cultural	conditioning	and	stereotyped	opinions	where	no	one	dares	question	the	value	of	a	work.	We	have	come	to	accept	that	only	art	that	hangs	in	a	museum	is	worthy	of	consideration.	Cardinal	explains:		art	is	the	monopoly	of	the	privileged	intellectual	and	the	professional	artist.…	[T]he	art	system	is	sustained	at	the	centre	by	a	cultural	ideal	that	is	untouchable	and	inalterable,	based	as	it	is	on	the	unshakeable	belief	in	such	things	as	our	“cultural	heritage,”	the	legacy	of	the	past,	and	the	fetish	of	the	“great	masterpiece.”	(Cardinal,	1972,	p.	9)		Dubuffet	asked	that	we	not	blindly	accept	the	status	quo,	but	rather,	embrace	other	kinds	of	art.	Art	that	is	unadulterated	by	culture,	Dubuffet	said,	is	visual	creation	at	its	purest—a	spontaneous	psychic	flow	from	brain	to	surface	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).	Those	who	are	outside	culture,	he	said,	draw	on	their	own	pure,	unrefined,	artistic	expression	to	create	work	that	springs	from	their	own	obsessive	need	to	express	themselves,	forcing	each	one	to	invent	his	or	her	own	language	and	means	of	expression	(Glimcher,	1987).	Most	importantly,	he	asked	that	we	consider	this	question:	what	else	could	art	be	like	(Cardinal,	1972)?	Art	brut	In	answer	to	his	own	question,	Dubuffet	created	a	private	art	collection	in	1945,	which	was	ultimately	housed	in	the	Collection	de	L’Art	Brut	in	Lausanne,	Switzerland	and	remains	there	today.	Dubuffet	did	not	‘discover’	art	brut,	but	rather	identified	a	category	of	artists	who	created	art	the	way	he	believed	it	‘should	be,’	that	is,	free	from	cultural	influence.	Its	creation	was	direct,	uninhibited,	original,	and	unique;	the	creators	did	not	 		10	consider	themselves	to	be	artists,	nor	the	work	they	produced	to	be	art.	Study	and	imitation	of	African	art	had	already	been	explored	in	France;	it	has	been	suggested	that	art	brut	was	Dubuffet’s	way	back	to	primitivism	(Rhodes,	2000).	The	‘innocence’	of	the	art	brut	artist	was	Dubuffet’s	ideal,	and	they	included	those	who	were	far	removed	from	the	mainstream	art	world:	psychiatric	patients,	self-taught	artists,	and	isolated	individuals.	His	collection	included	works	by:	• patients	in	psychiatric	institutions;		• mediums	and	clairvoyants;	• prisoners;	and		• those	without	access	to	cultural	convention	(e.g.,	women,	the	elderly,	isolated	provincials,	or	those	without	formal	education)	(Glimcher,	1987).	Dubuffet’s	artists	were	isolated	outcasts	who	achieved	their	goals	in	unconventional	ways.	They	did	not	ask	to	be	understood;	their	art	did	not	lend	itself	to	even	a	minimal	requirement	to	communicate	(Messer,	1986).	He	created	a	category	of	art	whose	creators	were	unaware	of	being	artists—the	‘unculture’	of	the	art	world.	They	were	“ignorant	of	any	order	but	their	own	obsession	with	image-making”	(Messer,	1986,	p.	32).		Dubuffet	was	deliberate	in	his	categorization	of	art	brut	art	and	artists.	In	setting	its	boundaries,	he	specifically	excluded	work	that	had	some	aesthetic	similarities,	including:	• primitive	and	folk	art,	because	they	have	their	own	traditions	and	cultural	stereotypes;	• naïve	art,	because	the	artists	emulate	cultural	traditions;	 		11	• children’s	art,	because	children	do	not	have	the	psychic	depth	necessary	for	true	creation	and	are	easily	influenced	by	their	audience;	and	• art	made	by	psychiatric	patients	at	the	request	of	doctors	to	aid	diagnosis	and	cure	(Glimcher,	1987).	It	is	important	to	remember	the	boundaries	of	Dubuffet’s	original	definition	of	art	brut.	Since	its	creation	in	1945,	an	international	interest	in	this	art	has	led	to	new	terminology,	definitions,	and	beliefs	about	the	artwork	and	its	creators,	so	much	so	that	it	is	difficult	to	engage	in	a	meaningful	dialogue	about	the	genre.	Despite	the	lack	of	agreement	on	what	art	brut	(and	more	recently,	outsider	art)	is	and	is	not,	Dubuffet’s	list	of	defining	characteristics	have	become	standard	markers	in	the	art	world:	compulsive	repetition;	chance;	automatism;	microscopic	or	macroscopic	views;	rejection	of	perspective,	scale,	proportion,	naturalistic	colouration;	combining	images	and	writing;	and	bricolage	(using	found	or	unorthodox	material).	If	these	characteristics	bring	to	mind	a	discordant	image,	it	is	fitting	to	remember	Dubuffet’s	conviction	that	art	is	not	about	beauty.	Art	is	to	address	the	mind,	not	the	eyes	(Glimcher,	1987).		Beyond	Art	Brut	Much	has	transpired	since	Dubuffet	introduced	his	art	brut	collection	to	the	art	world.	Some	art	theorists	have	followed	in	his	footsteps	while	others	have	gone	in	a	new	direction.	As	a	result,	we	no	longer	share	a	common	vision	of	art	brut;	it	is	not	clear	what	it	looks	like	today	or	what	it	will	look	like	in	the	future.	What	follows	is	a	brief	description	of	the	various	outsider	art	categories	that	are	discussed	in	the	art	world	today.	 		12	Neuve	invention	As	Dubuffet’s	art	brut	collection	grew,	it	became	clear	that	some	artwork	did	not	quite	‘fit’	into	the	restrictive	category	of	art	brut.	Although	the	work	was	powerful	and	inventive,	the	creators’	contact	with	society	and	awareness	of	their	own	work	precluded	their	inclusion	in	the	art	brut	category	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).	It	is	now	generally	accepted	that	it	is	impossible—and	always	was—to	be	totally	acultural	(Cardinal,	1994;	Glimcher,	1987).	These	artworks	were	moved	into	the	Annex	Collection	and	re-named	neuve	invention.	Dubuffet	described	these	as	“works	which,	though	not	characterized	by	the	same	radical	distancing	of	mind	as	art	brut,	are	nevertheless	sufficiently	independent	of	the	fine-art	system	to	constitute	a	challenge	to	the	cultural	institutions”	(Rhodes,	2000,	p.	47).	In	deciding	what	should	be	included	in	the	art	brut	collection,	it	is	said	that	Dubuffet	created	a	paradox	he	hoped	to	avoid	and,	without	intending	to	do	so,	he	created	a	new	orthodoxy	of	inclusion.	By	way	of	example,	Dubuffet	reluctantly	excluded	two	great	artists	from	his	original	art	brut	collection:	Gaston	Chaissac	and	Louis	Soutter.	Chaissac,	a	member	of	the	French	rural	working	class,	sought	input	and	instruction	on	his	artwork	from	prominent	painters;	Louis	Soutter,	a	professional	painter,	produced	remarkably	different	work	after	succumbing	to	a	mental	illness	(Rhodes,	2000).	In	hindsight,	establishing	the	neuve	invention	collection	marked	the	beginning	of	taxonomy	problems,	“setting	up	a	two-tier	and	elitist	distinction	between	first	and	second	class	outsiders”	(Cardinal,	1994,	p.	27).	It	is	interesting	to	observe	that	some	works	were	moved	back	and	forth	between	the	art	brut	 		13	and	neuve	invention	collections	(Maizels,	1996).	The	margins	of	art	brut	began	to	blur	as	soon	as	the	genre	was	named.		Outsider	art	Art	brut	continued	to	exist,	for	the	most	part	recognizing	the	two	categories	that	Dubuffet	defined:	art	brut	and	neuve	invention.	Roger	Cardinal,	a	professor	at	the	University	of	Kent,	set	out	to	write	about	art	brut	in	1972.	His	publisher	insisted	on	a	catchier	title,	and	so	Outsider	Art	went	to	press.	Cardinal	explains:		Well,	it	all	happened	when	I	produced	this	book.	I	wanted	to	call	it	‘Art	Brut,’	and	I	had	studied	the	Dubuffet	collection,	and	had	a	lot	of	examples	from	the	collection	and	some	that	I’d	chosen	myself,	but	fitting	into	the	general	rubric	of	Art	Brut.	And	with	that,	with	Dubuffet	as	the	coiner	of	that	particular	concept,	and	his	definitions	fairly	clearly	in	mind,	I	showed	the	publisher	what	I	wanted	to	do,	and	I	said,	‘Well,	you’ve	got	Art	Nouveau,	and	you’ve	got	Art	Deco,	now	you’ve	got	Art	Brut	and	everybody	will	get	on	with	it.’	But	the	publisher	was	very	worried	about	this	particular	title	and	wanted	something	more	easy	to	get	on	with	for	the	English	ear	and	said,	‘Well,	shouldn’t	we	call	it	something	else?’	And	we	went	through	hundreds	of	titles:	‘The	Art	of	the	Artless,’	I	remember	was	one	of	them.	But	‘Outsider	Art’	came	up	at	some	point	and	seemed	a	catchy	title.	I	was	a	bit	worried	because	of	the	idea	of	the	Outsider,	a	romantic	and	thrilling	sort	of	idea,	a	sort	of	highwayman,	or	a	thief,	someone	that	steals	by	in	the	night.		Rather	than	what	most	of	the	people	involved	actually	are,	simply,	if	you	like,	externally	quite	ordinary	and	often	quite	accessible	but	having	an	intense	inner	life.…	People	have	used	it	since	then,	and	have	misused	it,	and	have	stretched	it,	and	have	applied	it	in	all	sorts	of	ways.…	But	to	apply	it	to	just	anything	obviously	will	eventually	make	it	meaningless.	(Cardinal,	as	cited	in	Volkerz,	1998,	p.	24)	The	term	outsider	art	was	not	used	in	the	text	of	the	book,	but	Cardinal	intended	it	to	be	synonymous	with	art	brut,	and	from	the	outset	it	encompassed	the	categories	of	both	art	brut	and	neuve	invention	(Volkerz,	1998).	Cardinal	defined	outsider	art	(and	art	brut)	as	“strictly	un-tutored	and	exists	outside	of	the	normal	concept	of	art.	Not	hooked	up	to	 		14	galleries	and	certain	expectations.	It	should	be	more	or	less	inwards-turning	and	imaginative—self	contained	as	it	were”	(Volkerz,	1998,	p.	25).		Although	it	was	not	Cardinal’s	intention,	the	narrowly	defined	and	closely	guarded	world	of	art	brut	was	turned	upside	down.	The	term	‘outsider’	was	taken	literally,	triggering	a	debate	about	the	meaning	of	that	word	as	opposed	to	the	art.	Consequently,	in	recent	years,	outsider	art	has	become	an	umbrella	term	used	to	describe	art	brut	and	many	other	artistic	styles,	particularly	in	North	America.	It	often	refers	to	“any	artist	who	is	untrained	or	with	disabilities	or	suffering	social	exclusion,	whatever	the	nature	of	their	work”	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).	What	follows	is	a	list	of	terms	commonly	used	in	the	world	of	outsider	art.	Self-taught	art	The	term	‘self-taught	artist’	as	opposed	to	‘outsider	artist’	is	often	used,	particularly	in	the	United	States,	to	avoid	terminology	that	would	place	an	artist	on	the	outer	limits	of	society	because	of	prejudice	and	discrimination	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).		Visionary	or	intuitive	art	The	generally	accepted	characteristics	of	outsider	art	are	not	necessarily	present	in	visionary	or	intuitive	art.	This	category	can	include	urban	folk	art	from	developing	countries	and	work	arising	from	personal	religious	experiences	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).		Naïve	art		Naïve	artists	are	typically	sophisticated,	but	untrained	painters.	They	often	illustrate	scenes	from	the	real	world	such	as	people,	animals,	or	landscapes;	they	sometimes	incorporate	fantasy	images.	Many	wish	to	be	recognized	as	professional	artists	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).	 		15	Visionary	environments	“The	environments,	buildings	and	sculpture	parks	built	by	intuitive	artists	almost	defy	definition”	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).	Common	terms	that	are	applied	to	environmental	works	like	the	Watts	Tower	are	visionary	environments	and	contemporary	folk	art	environments.	The	term	outsider	art	is	generally	not	used	to	describe	these	environments	because	some	feel	the	label	is	inappropriate,	as	the	creators	are	often	integrated	members	of	their	community	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).		Folk	art	and	contemporary	folk	art	Folk	art	is	a	term	that	is	normally	used	to	describe	indigenous	crafts	and	traditional	decorative	skills	of	rural	communities	in	Europe.	The	term	was	later	applied	to	the	simply	made	practical	objects	of	colonial	days	in	the	United	States.	“In	contemporary	terms,	Folk	Art	can	cover	anything	from	chain-saw	animals	to	hub-cap	buildings	as	well	as	the	work	of	artists	that	would	easily	fall	into	the	realm	of	Outsider	Art”	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).		Marginal	art	and	art	singulier	Marginal	art	is	a	term	that	is	often	used	in	Europe	to	describe	artists	who	are	usually	self-taught.	In	appearance,	the	artwork	is	close	to	art	brut	and	outsider	art.	“These	are	the	artists	‘on	the	margins,’	that	grey	area	of	definition	that	lies	between	Outsider	Art	and	normal	mainstream	art,	very	similar	to	Dubuffet’s	neuve	invention	category.	Art	Singulier	encompasses	French	marginal	artists”	(Raw	Vision,	n.d.,	n.p.).		Defining	Outsider	Art	Seven	decades	after	Dubuffet	exposed	the	self-serving	biases	of	the	established	art	world,	we	may	have	accepted	the	otherness	of	non-mainstream	art	but	cannot	agree	 		16	whether	it	should	be	lumped	into	one	category	or	distinguished	by	markers	that	reference	stylistic	features	or	characteristics	of	its	maker.	In	an	effort	to	establish	the	border	of	outsider	art,	I	have	been	told	that	the	term	art	brut	is	sometimes	restricted	to	Dubuffet’s	original	collection	in	Lausanne,	although	I	understand	the	term	is	still	frequently	used	in	France.	To	restrict	the	term	art	brut	to	describe	the	original	collection	would,	at	least,	shorten	the	list	of	possible	descriptors	for	an	artwork.	Cardinal	(1994)	has	proposed	a	spectrum	of	‘outsiderness’	that	references	the	position	of	the	artist	along	a	spectrum	of	psychological	experience.	Others,	like	Dubuffet	and	his	followers,	note	stylistic	indicators	(Glimcher,	1987).	Another	group	points	to	class	issues	and	marginalization	as	defining	factors	(Lippard,	1994;	Metcalf,	1994).	All	struggle	with	the	problems	inherent	in	a	collection	of	art	that	runs	parallel	to	established	art	history	and	shares	few	common	characteristics	within	the	category	itself.		The	expanding	definition		Since	introducing	the	term	outsider	art	in	a	book	of	that	title,	Cardinal	cautions	that	to	“apply	it	to	anything	will	eventually	make	it	meaningless.	And	if	everything	becomes	Outsider	Art,	then	we	will	have	to	find	another	term	to	start	all	over	again”	(Cardinal,	1994,	p.	27).	Cardinal	warns	that	applying	a	set	of	outdated	rules	may	result	in	one	of	two	outcomes:	either	setting	up	an	elitist	distinction	between	classes	of	outsider	artists	or	having	the	category	crumble	completely	under	the	strain.	However,	because	the	term	outsider	art	is	now	used	throughout	the	world,	he	calls	for	a	looser	definition,	even	though	it	may	decrease	our	ability	to	discriminate	among	creators	and	their	creations	(Cardinal,	 		17	1994).	He	therefore	proposes	an	outsider	aesthetic	by	arguing	that	in	the	end,	the	evidence	that	carries	the	most	weight	is	provided	by	the	works	themselves.	He	describes	it	thus:	We	may	experience	something	a	little	unusual,	though	perhaps	not	altogether	surprising,	in	that	our	taxonomic	reflex	is	found	to	coincide	with	our	aesthetic	response,	when	confronting	the	artwork,	we	recognize	it	as	outsider	art	at	the	very	moment	we	submit	to	its	visual	allure.	(Cardinal,	1994,	p.	27)	Unfortunately,	this	description	of	the	viewer’s	aesthetic	response	is	not	particularly	useful	and	does	not	add	to	our	taxonomy	in	the	slightest.	It	is	akin	to	saying:	I	know	it	when	I	see	it.	A	spectrum	of	“outsiderness”	In	an	effort	to	clarify	the	concept	of	outsider	art,	some	authors	have	proposed	a	spectrum	of	art,	with	outsider	art	being	at	one	end	of	the	spectrum	and	mainstream	art	(that	is,	art	from	the	commercial	art	world)	being	at	the	other	(Cardinal,	1994):		Outsider _________________________________Mainstream	There	can	be	many	‘degrees	of	outsiderness’	along	this	spectrum.	But	what	factors	determine	where	to	place	an	artwork	along	the	scale?	Four	opinions	have	been	expressed:	• The	artist’s	biography;		• Stylistic	indicators	(aesthetics);		• The	artist’s	distance	from	the	mainstream	art	world;	and	• Social	factors	and	marginalization.			 Using	the	spectrum	brings	flexibility	to	defining	outsider	art,	but	it	is	not	without	its	own	problems.	Where	does	one	place	artwork	along	the	scale?	Is	one	style	more	‘authentic’	than	another?	What	is	the	result	if	an	autistic	outsider	moves	into	the	mainstream	art	 		18	world?	Does	he	or	she	cease	to	be	an	outsider	artist?	These	viewpoints	are	explained	below.		The	artist’s	biography		 For	some,	the	artist’s	biography	(i.e.,	pedigree)	is	the	key	factor	that	defines	his	or	her	status	as	an	outsider	artist.	The	‘polar	outsider’	is	an	autistic	who	renounces	any	sort	of	contact	with	the	world.	The	term	‘autistic’	is	not	meant	in	its	clinical	sense,	but	rather	suggests	an	‘autistic	air’	or	a	distinctive	intensity,	which	reveals	itself	in	the	style	of	the	artwork.	It	“catches	our	attention,	inspires	our	fascination,	and	quickens	our	sense	of	an	Outsider	aesthetic”	(Cardinal,	1994,	p.	33).			 While	Dubuffet	believed	that	mental	illness	allows	entry	to	interior	worlds	that	ordinary	people	cannot	access,	the	current	definition	has	expanded	to	include	those	with	any	type	of	mental	disability,	such	as	Autism	and	Down	syndrome.	I	have	not	found	an	explanation	for	their	inclusion,	although	I	suggest	this	pre-requisite	has	to	do	with	authenticity.	In	other	words,	these	artists,	like	those	with	mental	illnesses,	are	deemed	able	to	express	fresh	perspectives	and	access	truths	that	the	ordinary	person	cannot.	This	approach	raises	some	concerns;	if	the	artist’s	biography	is	of	primary	importance,	what	hope	do	we	have	for	intelligent	discourse?	There	is	little	left	to	discuss	beyond	a	medical	diagnosis.	Stylistic	indicators	Dubuffet	and	his	followers	noted	stylistic	indicators	(Glimcher,	1987)	and	they	have	sometimes	been	proposed	as	a	way	to	define	outsider	art.	Dubuffet	proposed	a	set	(Glimcher,	1987),	as	did	Cardinal	many	years	later	(Cardinal,	1972).	While	the	two	authors	 		19	did	not	disagree	on	any	particular	indicators,	the	lists	are	quite	different;	read	together	they	provide	a	comprehensive	description	of	common	features	of	outsider	artworks.	Dubuffet	proposed	these	aesthetic	considerations:	• representation	of	inner	psychic	and	mental	states	rather	than	the	visual	world;	• compulsive	repetition;	• chance;	• automatism;	• microscopic	or	macroscopic	views;	• rejection	of	perspective,	scale,	proportion,	naturalistic	colouration;	• combining	images	and	writing;	and	• bricolage	(using	found	or	unorthodox	material).	(Glimcher,	1987)	Many	years	later,	Cardinal	(1994)	identified	these	primary	stylistic	indicators:	• dense	ornamentation;	• dense	and	hermetic;	• compulsively	repeated	patterns;	• metamorphic	accumulations;	• appearance	of	instinct	through	wayward	symmetry;	• configurations	that	occupy	an	equivocal	ground	between	the	figurative	and	the	decorative;	• other	configurations	which	hesitate	between	representation	and	enigmatic	calligraphy	or	which	seek	the	perfect	blending	of	image	and	word;	and	 		20	• certain	favourite	subjects	(e.g.,	self-portraits).	Secondary	stylistic	indicators	have	also	been	identified.	Cardinal	(1972)	notes	that	stylistic	affinities	emerge	among	artists	who	share	a	common	culture.	Second,	those	who	create	outdoor	environments	and	monuments	share	some	stylistic	features.	Third,	he	acknowledges	that	access	to	only	unsophisticated	art	materials	may	contribute	to	our	perception	of	stylistic	concordance.	Cardinal	(1972),	however,	cautions	against	making	generalizations	about	the	work	of	outsider	artists.	He	describes	art	brut	as	a	“teaming	archipelago	rather	than	a	continent	crossed	by	disputed	borders.	The	only	connection	between	each	‘island	of	sensibility’	is	that	they	are	all	distinct	from	the	cultural	mainland.	The	only	likeness	is	within	the	work	of	a	single	artist”	(p.	52).	While	the	aesthetics	of	the	artwork	and	personal	traits	of	the	artist	are	important	indicators	of	outsider	art	for	some	authors,	others	take	a	radically	different	view.	The	artist’s	distance	from	mainstream	art		Another	definition	of	outsider	art	references	the	art	world	rather	than	society.	In	other	words,	the	artist	need	only	be	marginal	in	relation	to	the	culture	of	art	(that	is,	oblivious	to	it)	and	outside	the	trends	and	discourse	of	contemporary	art	practice	(Rhodes,	2000).	In	many	ways	this	imperative	echoes	Dubuffet’s	original	concept—that	art	makers	must	escape	the	confines	of	conventional	art	and	those	who	define	it.	Again,	this	is	not	as	clear-cut	as	one	would	hope.	Artists	may	move	from	a	marginal	position	to	a	full	participant	in	the	art	world.	This	may	take	her	out	of	the	outsider	art	category,	even	though	her	work	remains	unchanged.	 		21	Social	factors	and	marginalization		 Outsider	art,	for	some,	is	defined	in	political	rather	than	aesthetic	terms.	In	other	words,	it	is	rooted	in	cultural	elitism	and	class	differences—a	belief	in	the	binary	categories	of	us	and	them	(Lippard,	1994;	Metcalf,	1994).	The	term	outsider	is	taken	literally,	as	an	example	of	the	self-proclaimed	elite	members	of	society	marginalizing	certain	individuals	and	groups,	thus	forcing	them	into	the	position	of	outsiders.	Lippard	(1994),	for	instance,	asks:	outside	of	what?	She	maintains	that	the	term	means	outside	of	society,	a	situation	that	has	arisen	from	class	differences.	Lippard	suggests	these	artists	are	sometimes	outside	their	own	social	contexts	and	usually	out	of	the	mainstream.	The	negative	name,	she	says,	was	given	by	an	ethnocentric	society,	“based	on	what	is	not	rather	than	what	is;	the	margins	are	defined	by	the	center”	(Lippard,	1994,	p.	5).	Cubbs	describes	outsider	artists	as	“readymade	outcasts,”	those	on	the	margins	of	culture:	social	isolates,	eccentrics,	religious	visionaries,	city	slum	dwellers,	and	mental	health	patients	(1998,	p.	85).		In	a	similar	vein,	Metcalf	(1994)	notes	the	highly	political	nature	of	art	definitions.	Poverty	separates,	he	says;	to	consider	context	is	to	consider	class	and	economics.	Others	say	that	outsider	art	is	a	stronghold	for	cultural	elitism	and	racism.	We	believe	the	noble	savage	still	exists	and	will	create	an	‘other’	we	can	“collect,	embellish	with	theory,	and	still	seek	to	control”	(Lippard,	1994,	p.	11).	Of	the	few	discussions	I	have	had	about	outsider	art	in	British	Columbia,	the	topic	is	highly	politicized:	the	artist	is	outside	only	because	of	his	or	her	marginalized	status.	Thus,	the	artist	is	dismissed	twice:	first	by	those	who	hold	the	power	(by	status,	wealth,	 		22	education,	or	privilege),	and	second	from	the	mainstream	artworld.	It	is	a	no-win	situation.	For	those	who	propose	this	interpretation	of	outsider	art,	there	should	only	be	one	art	world	and	the	elite	should	not	control	it.	Gallery	Gachet	in	Vancouver,	for	example,	describes	itself	as	an	outsider	art	gallery.	Its	submission	guidelines	are	stated	as	follows:	Gallery	Gachet	supports	artists	who	have	experienced	marginalization	due	to	their	mental	health,	addictions,	trauma	and/or	abuse	experiences,	by	working	for	cultural	and	economic	justice.	It	is	not	necessary	that	those	submitting	have	experienced	mental	illness	or	social	marginalization	personally,	however	the	work	must	speak	to	our	mandate	in	specific	and	interesting	ways.	(Gallery	Gachet,	n.d.,	n.p.)	In	one	sense	this	position	echoes	Dubuffet’s	complaint	that	“art	is	the	monopoly	of	the	privileged	intellectual	and	the	professional	artist”	(Cardinal,	1972,	p.	9).	In	another,	it	strays	from	Dubuffet’s	original	concept	in	a	significant	way:	he	did	not	define	the	issue	in	political	terms.	His	artists	were	not	excluded	from	the	mainstream	art	world	because,	in	fact,	they	never	sought	to	be	part	of	it.		Further,	while	outsider	art	galleries	may	frame	their	vision	in	terms	of	social	justice	issues,	there	is	little	appreciation	for	the	fact	that	all	artists—professional	or	otherwise—struggle	to	obtain	gallery	representation.	Acceptance	into	the	world	of	commerce	is	dependent	on	a	multitude	of	factors,	ranging	from	self-promotion	and	competition,	conforming	to	the	art	gallerist’s	personal	vision	and	interests,	and	most	importantly,	the	aesthetic	features	of	the	work	(i.e.,	quality).	In	the	end,	it	is	a	business	decision;	will	the	artwork	sell	or	not?	Feeling	excluded	from	the	mainstream	art	world	is	not	unique	to	outsider	artists.	It	is	the	reality	of	being	an	artist.	Since	Dubuffet	declared	his	anti-cultural	manifesto,	political	institutions	have	formed	and	fallen,	social	movements	have	changed	the	structure	of	Western	society,	and	 		23	personal	attitudes	have	shifted	far	beyond	what	Dubuffet	may	have	thought	possible.	In	particular,	our	understanding	of	mental	illness	has	undergone	a	radical	transformation;	development	of	effective	pharmaceutical	strategies,	de-institutionalization	of	psychiatric	patients,	and	admitting	the	reality	of	marginalization	are	but	a	few	examples.	Although	Dubuffet	insisted	that	art	brut	was	not	restricted	to	artists	with	mental	health	issues,	that	characteristic	was	an	important	qualifier	for	those	who	believed	that	mental	illness	and	creative	genius	were	inextricably	linked.	Given	our	better	understanding	of	mental	illness	today,	I	set	out	to	explore	whether	contemporary	attitudes	towards	mental	illness	are	reflected	in	the	current	definition	of	outsider	art	and	more	generally,	how	the	search	for	authenticity	in	art	has	continued.	 		24	Chapter	3: The	Search	for	Authenticity	Introduction	The	search	for	authentic	expression	is	the	thread	that	ties	seemingly	disparate	categories	of	outsider	art	together.	In	addition	to	the	work	of	artists	with	mental	health	issues,	the	label	has	been	applied	to	dissimilar	forms	of	art	rooted	in	specific	cultural	milieus,	arising	from	evolving	social	policies,	or	reflecting	certain	political	positions.	The	following	discussion	explores	authenticity	and	suggests	how	it	has	been	interpreted	to	justify	various	art	forms	called	outsider	art.	It	also	explains	the	evolution	of	outsider	art	categories.	Authenticity	and	Mental	Illness	Prinzhorn’s	book	created	significant	interest	within	France’s	art	community.	Extolling	the	liberating	work	of	psychiatric	patients	who	took	voyages	of	discovery	to	the	unconscious,	the	surrealists,	led	by	André	Breton,	created	their	own	‘cult	of	insanity’	(Beveridge,	2001).	As	a	way	to	explore	the	unconscious	mind,	they	studied	dreams	and	practised	automatic	writing,	activities	they	believed	approximated	madness	because	there	was	no	logic,	reason	or	structure.	Creativity,	they	said,	came	from	deep	within	a	person’s	subconscious	and	is	more	powerful	and	authentic	than	any	product	of	conscious	thought	(Nadeau,	1973).		As	a	member	of	the	surrealist	group,	Dubuffet	sought	the	source	and	expression	of	pure	creativity.	His	initial	art	brut	collection	was	driven	by	the	artists’	biography,	that	is,	he	looked	to	artists	who	were	far	removed	from	society	and	the	mainstream	art	world,	such	as	 		25	psychiatric	patients	and	uneducated,	reclusive	individuals.	Although	work	by	patients	in	psychiatric	institutions	formed	the	basis	of	his	original	collection,	he	argued	against	the	art	of	the	insane.	There	was	no	such	thing	as	“the	art	of	the	mad	any	more	than	there	is	an	art	of	people	with	sick	knees”	(Messer,	1986,	p.	33).	However,	he	believed	that	“madness	unburdens	a	person,	giving	him	wings	and	helping	his	clairvoyance”	(Glimcher,	1987,	p.	104).	He	said,	“For	me,	insanity	is	super	sanity.	The	normal	is	psychotic.	Normal	means	the	lack	of	imagination,	lack	of	creativity”	(Hamburger,	1975,	p.	27).	Thus,	the	artist’s	mental	state	was	not	a	defining	characteristic	of	art	brut,	but	it	was	unquestionably	linked	to	the	authenticity	of	expression.	Mental	illness	has	remained	one	of	the	hallmarks	of	an	outsider	artist,	and	even	today,	belief	in	a	connection	is	rarely	challenged	in	the	world	of	outsider	art.	Its	popularity	is	evident	at	lectures	and	discussions	at	outsider	art	gatherings.1		The	mad	genius	persona	Madness	has	been	connected	with	visionary	power	from	the	time	of	the	ancient	Greeks.	Plato,	for	example,	introduced	the	concept	of	divine	madness,	but	in	a	very	different	context.	Madness	was	a	creative	inspiration	delivered	by	the	gods,	more	like	a	muse	than	a	mental	disorder.	The	story	of	art	brut	and	its	link	to	mental	illness	began	in	the	19th	century—the	Age	of	Romanticism—when	the	savage	was	noble,	the	genius	was	mad,	and	the	hero	was	a	misunderstood	outcast.																																																								1	The	Outsider	Art	Fair,	2014,	offered	a	panel	presentation	on	art	and	paranoid	psychosis.	Unfortunately,	the	presentation	was	deferred	due	to	bad	weather	and	I	have	not	been	able	to	obtain	a	transcript.	The	Creative	Growth	organization	in	California	offered	a	presentation	in	October	2015	on	the	intersection	of	psychoanalysis	and	outsider	art.			 		26	Madness	was	a	metaphor	for	freedom	from	the	constraints	of	society;	the	madman	travelled	to	new	planes	of	reality	and	was	granted	special	status,	being	free	from	social	convention	and	having	access	to	profound	truths	(Beveridge,	2001).	To	the	Romantics,	madness	was	both	a	piteous	and	exalted	condition	and	a	welcome	reprieve	from	dreaded	normality	(Becker,	1982).	Éluard,	a	Romantic	poet,	summarized	it	thus:		We	who	love	them	understand	that	the	insane	refuse	to	be	cured.	We	know	well	that	is	we	who	are	locked	up	when	the	asylum	door	is	shut:	the	prison	is	outside	the	asylum,	liberty	is	to	be	found	inside.	(Éluard,	as	cited	in	Beveridge,	2001,	p.	597)		The	idea	that	madness	fosters	creative	genius	reinforces	the	stereotype	that	a	life	of	psychological	torture	is	the	price	one	must	pay	for	this	gift.	Sadly,	it	also	trivializes	the	reality	of	mental	illness	and	glamorizes	the	profound	truths	it	can	apparently	reveal.	But	the	question	still	remains:	do	those	who	suffer	from	mental	illnesses	create	works	of	genius?	Many	believe	this	is	so,	despite	a	dearth	of	scientific	evidence	that	such	a	connection	exists.		In	the	20th	century,	studies	have	explored	the	connection	between	mental	illness	and	creative	genius.	While	some	research	purports	to	confirm	the	connection,	others	dismiss	any	significant	relationship.	One	vocal	critic	describes	the	dramatic	presentation	of	mad	geniuses	in	the	media	as	the	insanity	hoax,	presenting	information	as	fact,	not	theory	(Schlesinger,	2009).	She	challenges	the	research	as	unscientific	and	anecdotal	at	best,	and	self-serving	at	worst:	Such	misunderstandings	help	perpetuate	the	mad	genius	idea,	but	the	romance,	the	schadenfreude,	the	comfort,	and	the	alibi	of	it	are	all	too	enjoyable	to	let	anything	shatter	the	myth,	including	science.	And	because	this	madness	sells,	the	media	will	continue	to	hammer	its	connection	to	creativity…	And	the	bottom	line	is	that	society	may	well	be	stuck	with	the	idea	forever,	regardless	of	what	any	researchers	do,	or	don’t	do.	(Schlesinger,	2009,	p.	70)		 		27	The	persistent	myth	of	artist	as	a	tragic	figure,	as	well	as	Western	culture’s	empathy	for	the	anti-hero—particularly	those	alienated	and	uncommunicative	figures	of	the	artworld—never	seems	to	wane.	Perhaps	such	sentiments	account	for	our	interest	in	the	outsider	artist’s	pedigree	as	much	as	her	artwork.	There	is	great	danger,	however,	in	accepting	the	myth	of	the	mad	genius.	First,	to	view	the	artist	through	a	warped,	generic	lens	reduces	her	creative	output	to	a	product	of	mental	illness.	Second,	the	myth	becomes	a	cultural	truism.	If	one	finds	it	irresistible,	one	may	fail	to	question	whether	it	is	based	in	science	or	wishful	thinking	(Schlesinger,	2009).	And	third,	it	may	be	tempting	to	praise	whatever	the	artist	produces,	for	surely	it	is	the	work	of	a	genius.	Van	Gogh	is	the	poster	boy	for	the	mad	genius	(Schlesinger,	2009).	We	know	he	cut	off	his	ear	and	are	familiar	with	the	self-portrait	of	his	bandaged	head	that	followed,	yet	all	that	many	remember	about	Van	Gogh	is	that	he	suffered	from	symptoms	of	mental	illness:	his	unique	paintings,	his	mood	swings,	and	his	ultimate	suicide.	What	we	do	not	acknowledge	are	his	poverty,	loneliness,	artistic	failure,	epilepsy,	absinthe	poisoning,	and	tertiary	syphilis	(with	symptoms	that	mimic	the	mood	swings	and	psychosis	of	bipolar	disorder).	His	life	circumstances	alone	would	surely	lead	to	grief	and	despair.	I	question	why	a	posthumous	diagnosis	of	mental	illness	is	so	inextricably	linked	to	appreciation	of	his	artwork.		Opponents	of	the	mad	genius	theory	argue	that	there	is	no	universal	definition	or	measurement	of	either	variable	(genius	or	mental	illness)	and	that	in	itself	is	a	reason	to	dismiss	it.	Another	concern	is	that	research	said	to	reveal	a	potential	link	between	genius	and	mental	illness	was	done	without	a	control	group.	At	worst,	the	opponents	say	the	oft- 		28	cited	study2	provides	only	self-serving	proof	that	one	researcher’s	bipolar	disorder	elevates	her	to	the	status	of	genius.	In	the	end,	the	critics	say,	the	mad	genius	myth	is	far	too	alluring	to	give	up—it	is	old	and	glamorous	and	shimmers	with	a	pseudoscientific	patina	(Schlesinger,	2009).		In	the	world	of	outsider	art,	acceptance	and	promotion	of	the	mad	genius	myth	is	common,	so	much	so	that	art	gallery	collections	often	reference	diagnosed	mental	illnesses	and	the	foundation	of	many	European	collections	is	based	on	the	work	of	artists	with	mental	health	issues	(e.g.,	The	Gugging	Psychiatric	Clinic	in	Austria).	Some	private	collectors,	for	example,	only	want	the	work	of	schizophrenic	artists	(Fine,	2004).	Similarly,	galleries	often	reference	the	psychological	status	of	their	artists,	as	in	this	biographical	excerpt	posted	on	a	Parisian	gallery’s	website:	Charles	Steffen,	born	in	Chicago	in	1927,	is	one	of	those	Art	Brut	creators	who,	like	Louis	Soutter,	started	out	as	an	art	student	before	mental	illness	took	them	further,	deeper,	elsewhere—to	a	place	far	removed	from	cliché,	where	genius	and	madness	intermingle,	where	pain	occasionally	gives	rise	to	beauty.	(Berst,	n.d.-a,	n.p.)		The	aura	of	mental	illness	can	trump	any	other	identifying	characteristics	that	might	define	an	outsider	artist,	for	a	diagnosed	mental	illness	is	proof	of	authenticity	(that	is,	creative	purity).	For	example,	it	is	generally	accepted	that	an	outsider	artist	must	be	self-taught.	However,	a	mainstream	artist	who	succumbs	to	a	mental	illness	can	qualify	as	an	outsider	artist	(e.g.,	artists	Louis	Soutter	and	Gaston	Chaissac).	What	does	this	mean?	Does	the	artist	forget	or	relinquish	all	his	or	her	professional	skills	upon	becoming	unwell?	Does	the	artist	acquire	special	abilities	and	insight	by	reason	only	of	that	illness?	I	do	not	believe																																																								 2	Jamison,	K.	R.	(1989).	Mood	disorders	and	patterns	of	creativity	in	British	writers	and	artists.	Psychiatry,	52,	125–134.	 		29	so.	Whether	or	not	one	accepts	the	veracity	of	the	myth,	it	is	accepted,	without	question,	among	many	in	the	outsider	art	community	(Thevoz,	1994).		Many	argue,	however,	that	mental	illness	is	a	cultural	and	social	construct:	To	be	‘crazy’	is	a	social	concept;	we	use	social	relationships	and	definitions	in	order	to	distinguish	mental	disturbances.	You	can	say	that	a	man	is	peculiar,	that	he	behaves	in	an	unexpected	way	and	has	funny	ideas,	and	if	he	happens	to	live	in	a	little	town	in	France	or	Switzerland	you	would	say,	‘He	is	an	original	fellow,	one	of	the	most	original	inhabitants	of	that	little	place’;	but	if	you	bring	that	man	into	the	midst	of	Harley	Street,	well,	he	is	plumb	crazy.	(Jung,	1976,	p.	35)		And,	it	has	been	said	that	trying	to	divide	madness	from	reason	is	itself	a	form	of	madness	(Foucault,	1988).	In	deconstructing	the	concept	of	madness,	Foucault	examines	its	various	characterizations	from	moral	defects	to	chemical	imbalances	and	concludes	that	they	can	only	be	provisional	definitions	that	will	be	subject	to	skeptical	review	by	our	successors.	It	is	a	cultural	construct,	meaning	different	things	at	different	times,	and	always	clouded	by	the	moral	presumptions	of	the	viewer	(Hollis,	2013).	Overlapping	Concepts	and	Terminology	To	pictorially	describe	the	world	of	outsider	art	would	result	in	a	series	of	overlapping	circles	of	art	brut,	outsider	art,	self-taught	art,	folk	art,	contemporary	folk	art,	and	African-American	self-taught	art	from	the	South.	The	perimeters	of	some	circles	are	blurred,	there	may	be	more	than	one	term	used	to	define	a	circle	and,	most	importantly,	it	will	depend	on	which	country	those	circles	are	in.	In	Europe,	there	are	two	distinct	circles:	folk	art	and	outsider	art.	In	the	United	States,	there	are	five	distinct	circles:	folk	art,	contemporary	folk	art,	self-taught	art,	outsider	art,	and	African-American	self-taught	art	from	the	South.	 		30	Folk	Art	in	Europe	Two	distinct	genres	of	non-mainstream	art	are	common	in	Europe	today—folk	art	and	outsider	art	(generally	called	art	brut).	Folk	art	refers	to	handiwork	and	crafts	from	peasant	communities—traditions	handed	down	from	one	generation	to	the	next.	The	work	is	regional	and	tied	to	family,	ethnic,	religious,	or	cultural	traditions	(Gomez,	2014a;	Gomez,	2014b).		The	concepts	of	folk	art	and	mainstream	art	shifted	in	late	19th	century	Europe.	Until	then,	the	aim	of	the	artist	was	to	become	more	competent	in	depicting	perceptual	phenomena.	After	the	advent	of	modernism,	however,	art	history	was	no	longer	seen	as	technical	progress	in	representation	(Danto,	1998).	While	the	exact	reason	for	this	shift	is	unclear,	art	historians	have	noted	that	attention	to	folk	art	coincided	with	the	beginnings	of	modernistic	painting:	in	particular,	Manet’s	Olympia	in	1865.	At	this	point,	they	say,	the	meaning	of	painting	was	defined	as	something	other	than	exact	representation;	there	was	a	possibility	that	artwork	from	other	cultures	could	inform	artwork	with	greater	authenticity.	Folk	art	was	an	escape	from	formalism.3	To	start	seeing	folk	art	as	art	required	a	significant	shift	in	our	perception.	It	makes	no	difference,	aesthetically	speaking,	whether	the	object	of	our	scrutiny	is	a	piece	of	“negro	sculpture”	of	modern	sculpture,	or	of	folk	sculpture.	From	this	perspective,	there	is	scant	basis	for	distinguishing	folk	art	from	fine	art	or	modern	art	from	negro	art.	Modernism,	with	its	emphasis	on	form,	took	a	step	in	the	direction	of	dissolving	the	differences	between	museums	of	modern	art	and	museums	of	folk	art.	(Danto,	1998,	p.	21)																																																								 3	There	are	many	examples	of	the	early	influence	of	folk	art,	such	as	Van	Gogh’s	interest	in	Japanese	art	and	Gaugin’s	immersion	in	Tahitian	culture.	 		31	Outsider	Art	in	Europe	Outsider	art	has	very	different	roots.	Its	origins	trace	back	to	the	creative	output	of	psychiatric	patients	and,	more	generally,	individuals	who,	because	of	psychological	or	sociological	conditions,	were	on	the	margins	of	society	(Russell,	2011).		I	spent	four	weeks	in	Germany	in	the	hope	that	I	would	gain	a	better	understanding	of	how	outsider	art	is	defined	in	Europe.	I	had	the	opportunity	to	spend	some	time	at	Galerie	Art	Cru	in	Berlin.	The	gallery	describes	its	artists	as	people	with	psychiatric	disorders	or	mental	disabilities.	Its	focus	is	to	make	the	work	of	its	artists	more	visible	and	close	the	distance	between	mainstream	and	outsider	art.		Like	many	cities	in	Europe	(and	North	America)	Berlin	has	established	ateliers	(art	studios)	for	people	with	mental	disabilities	and	Galerie	Art	Cru	exhibits	their	work.	In	discussing	the	definition	of	outsider	art	in	the	United	States,	I	explained	that	not	all	outsider	artists	there	suffer	from	a	mental	disability.	I	was	thinking,	in	particular,	of	reclusive	and	eccentric	(but	not	mentally	ill)	artists	like	Henry	Darger	and	Morton	Bartlett.	This	came	as	a	surprise	to	gallery	staff.	If	this	were	so,	they	questioned,	how	could	one	determine	who	was	an	authentic	outsider	artist?	And	if	the	source	of	the	artwork	is	not	from	supportive	workshops,	where	would	one	find	artwork	to	exhibit?		This	loose	definition	of	outsider	art	was	troubling	to	some.	Equally	puzzling	to	me	was	the	connection	between	mental	disabilities	and	visual	arts.	It	was	the	word	disability	that	caught	me	up.	One	might	have	a	cognitive	disability,	for	example,	which	might	affect	one’s	ability	to	reason	at	the	level	of	an	adult,	but	what	did	that	have	to	do	with	creativity?	How	could	anyone	have	a	creative	disability?	What	did	one	have	to	do	with	the	other?	I	 		32	concluded	that	just	as	persons	with	mental	illnesses	were	once	believed	to	be	free	from	cultural	and	social	constraints,	so	must	those	with	mental	or	cognitive	impairment.	I	learned	that	social	inclusion	was	a	very	important	goal	for	Germany—no	one	should	be	left	at	the	margins	of	society.	I	discovered	that	there	has	been	an	international	move	towards	social	inclusion,	a	topic	that	comes	up	frequently	in	Europe,	particularly	France	and	Germany.	In	fact,	the	European	Union	led	the	movement,	striving	to	raise	the	standard	of	living	and	strengthen	communities	by	providing	opportunities	for	all	European	citizens.	Hence,	a	decision	was	made	to	include	those	with	mental	disabilities	in	the	art	world.		This	new	insight	led	me	to	explore	the	broad	issue	of	social	inclusion	and	exclusion.	The	advancement	of	human	rights	has	been	a	large	part	of	the	modern	social	agenda.	Following	the	advancement	of	psychopharmacology	in	the	mid-1900s	and	an	observable	‘improvement’	in	the	mental	health	of	psychiatric	patients,	disability	rights	advocates	challenged	governments	in	the	Western	world	to	close	psychiatric	hospitals.	The	priority	for	deinstitutionalization	was	to	replace	hospitals	with	community	mental	health	services	for	those	with	psychiatric	disorders	or	developmental	disabilities.		The	rights	of	people	with	other	disabilities	followed	later.	The	United	Nations	adopted	the	Rights	of	Mentally	Retarded	Persons	in	1971	and	shortly	thereafter,	in	1975,	it	adopted	the	Declaration	on	the	Rights	of	Disabled	Persons.	Disabilities	were	recognized	as	a	universal	human	experience;	there	was	a	move	away	from	the	medical	model	to	the	social	model	for	disabled	persons.	The	United	Nations	has	kept	the	subject	at	the	forefront	of	its	human	rights	agenda	and	adopted	the	Convention	of	Rights	for	Persons	with	Disabilities	in	 		33	2006,	with	the	intent	of	promoting	and	protecting	the	rights	and	dignity	of	persons	with	disabilities.	The	Convention	has	been	widely	ratified.4		The	goal	of	social	inclusion	is	for	society	to	freely	and	openly	accommodate	persons	with	disabilities.	While	physical	accessibility	issues	are	important,	its	main	purpose	is	cultural	transformation.	One	way	to	include	those	who	were	traditionally	excluded	is	to	immerse	them	into	mainstream	culture	through	artistic	expression.	The	sociology	of	disability	and	identity	is	far	beyond	the	scope	of	this	thesis,	but	it	is	important	to	note	that	it	has	had	a	significant	impact	in	the	field	of	visual	arts.	The	international	disability	rights	movement	became	politically	active	in	the	1970s	and	1980s,	challenging	dominant	social	stereotypes.	Activists	determined	that	their	life	experiences	shaped	a	common,	group	understanding	of	the	condition	of	disability	(Brown,	1996).	Although	their	stories	were	unique,	they	shared	a	history	of	common	perceptions	about	their	condition.	They	identify	as	a	distinct	culture,	most	visibly	demonstrated	through	the	work	of	artists	in	every	discipline.	One	definition	follows:	People	with	disabilities	have	forged	a	group	identity.	We	share	a	common	history	of	oppression	and	a	common	bond	of	resilience.	We	generate	art,	music,	literature,	and	other	expressions	of	our	lives,	our	culture,	infused	from	our	experience	of	disability.	Most	importantly,	we	are	proud	of	ourselves	as	people	with	disabilities.	We	claim	our	disabilities	with	pride	as	part	of	our	identity.	We	are	who	we	are:	we	are	people	with	disabilities.	(Brown,	1996,	n.p.)	At	first	blush,	there	may	seem	to	be	no	difference	between	exhibiting	the	artwork	of	disabled	persons	and	the	goals	of	disability	culture	groups,	but	I	suggest	they	are	quite	distinct.	First,	disability	culture	is	self-motivated,	intentional,	and	formed	by	its	own																																																								 4	The	United	States	is	still	waiting	for	Senate	approval.	 		34	members.	Decisions	to	engage	in	creative	activities—which	activities	and	by	which	members—are	made	within	the	group,	not	by	those	outside.	Second,	disability	culture	groups	take	an	active	role	in	championing	their	own	rights.	However,	disabled	artists	who	belong	to	an	art	studio	are	often	selected	for	inclusion	based	on	their	artistic	abilities.	The	decision	to	join	a	studio	cannot	be	made	by	the	artist	alone;	it	is	made	by	someone	in	charge	of	the	group.	Their	artwork	is	championed	by	those	who	have	the	power	to	do	so.	It	has	been	suggested	that	the	introduction	of	psychotropic	drugs	resulted	in	a	decline	in	the	number	of	discoveries	of	outsider	artists,	much	to	the	disappointment	of	its	strongest	advocates	(Thevoz,	1994).	As	those	numbers	decreased,	there	was	a	noticeable	shift	in	outsider	art	culture	and,	in	my	view,	it	has	been	re-defined;	artists	with	disabilities	are	now	featured	outsider	artists.	Is	this	shift	based	on	evolving	views	of	what	constitutes	art	or	are	we	simply	responding	to	the	imperative	of	social	inclusion?	Social	inclusion	is	a	laudable	objective	and	should	not	be	scorned,	but	one	could	argue	that	the	social	inclusion	directive	is	inextricably	linked	to	power.	How	can	one	include	people	and	groups	into	structured	systems	that	have	systematically	excluded	them	in	the	first	place?	One	author	calls	this	dancing	the	dialectic	(Labonte,	2004).	If	Dubuffet	correctly	identified	the	cultural	elite	as	the	gatekeepers	of	the	art	world,	perhaps	the	hierarchies	that	support	this	dialectic	should	be	challenged	first.		United	States	There	is	a	clear	distinction	between	folk	art	and	outsider	art	in	Europe,	but	the	relationship	between	them	in	the	United	States	is	far	more	complex.	Both	fall	under	the	umbrella	term	of	what	Americans	call	self-taught	art,	a	term	that	is	not	used	in	Europe.	 		35	Although	it	makes	it	more	difficult	to	define	outsider	art	on	an	international	level,	Americans	have	added	their	own	unique	flavour	to	the	mix,	reflecting	its	venerated	history	of	folk	art,	the	civil	rights	movement,	and	the	tradition	of	Southern	art.	Folk	art	Folk	art	and	art	brut	are	different	types	of	artistic	expression,	but	they	share	a	common	ideology—that	is,	belief	in	individual	expression	that	is	not	affected	by	the	art	establishment’s	rules.	Understanding	the	history	of	folk	art	in	the	United	States	is	fundamental	to	understanding	outsider	art	in	America	today.	For	this	reason,	a	brief	outline	of	its	history	is	pertinent.	In	the	United	States,	traditional	folk	art	typically	refers	to	work	produced	by	people	who	have	limited	education,	little	training	in	art	techniques,	and	whose	work	is	not	related	to	established	art	institutions	or	practices.	For	some	scholars,	that	means	painting	and	other	objects	that	were	created	in	18th	and	19th	Century	America	(Gomez,	2014b).	American	folk	art	has	been	collected	since	the	mid-1800s	when	it	was	considered	a	discovery	of	“the	American	spirit	in	its	essentials—a	simple,	almost	austere	directness,	an	engagingly	straightforward	honesty.	They	discovered	their	own	‘home-grown	primitives’,	the	equivalent	of	tribal	arts”	(Fine,	2004,	p.	7).	By	the	1930s,	folk	art	was	enshrined	as	the	art	of	the	people	and	museum	collections	were	instrumental	in	shaping	public	awareness.	When	the	American	Folk	Art	Museum	was	established	in	1961,	its	original	emphasis	was	on	colonial	art	and	quaint	evocations	of	country	life	(Maizels,	1996,	p.	114).		At	the	turn	of	the	20th	century,	American	folk	art	was	recognized	by	those	who	considered	it	exemplified	“a	forthright	honesty	of	purpose	and	execution	that	was	absent	 		36	from	mainstream	art	and	that	seemed	to	encode	the	very	DNA	of	American	experience”	(Hollander,	2014,	p.	13).	In	other	words,	this	was	authentic	American	art	and	the	fact	that	the	artists	were	self-taught	was	a	virtue	and	something	to	boast	about.	A	shift	in	the	American	Folk	Art	Museum’s	vision	in	the	1960s	resulted	in	extending	the	traditional	collection	of	folk	art	to	include	contemporary	works.	This	moved	America	further	away	from	the	original,	European	understanding	of	folk	art	as	the	“tradition-bound	household	arts	of	peasant	communities”	(Wertkin,	1998,	p.	9).	Further,	by	the	late	1960s,	there	was	an	influx	of	young	people,	including	artists,	to	the	Appalachian	region,	often	connected	to	community	activism	or	government	programs	to	combat	poverty.	Issues	of	class	and	race	were	at	the	forefront,	fostering	the	discovery	and	acceptance	of	self-taught	art	(in	other	words,	helping	the	underdog).		Interest	in	the	work	of	folk	(and,	more	generally,	self-taught)	artists	dramatically	increased	in	the	1990s,	with	major	American	art	museums	adding	the	work	of	self-taught	artists	to	their	collection.	It	was	part	of	the	country’s	multicultural	agenda	(Wertkin,	1998).	The	1998	exhibit	at	the	American	Folk	Art	Museum,	Self-taught	Artists	of	the	20th	Century:	An	American	Anthology	surveyed	the	work	of	artists	who	worked	outside	the	confines	of	art	schools,	galleries	and	museums.	As	with	outsider	art,	the	museum	described	self-taught	art	as	free	from	the	conventions	of	art	institutions	and	outside	the	art-historical	canon	(Longhauser,	1998).		Folk	art	and	outsider	art	are	similar	in	that	they	are	both	outside	the	canon	of	art	history	and	do	not	share	in	a	discourse	that	defines	the	world	of	art	at	any	given	moment.	Neither	genre	is	shaped	by	art	institutions	nor	are	the	artists	part	of	the	art	world,	even	if	 		37	their	work	is	consumed	by	those	who	are.	However,	while	there	are	some	similarities	between	folk	art	and	outsider	art,	folk	art	was	never	given	the	intellectual	rationale	that	Dubuffet	gave	to	art	brut	and	there	are	important	differences	between	the	two	(Maizels,	1996,	p.	114).	Folk	art	echoes	its	‘homestead	past.’	Its	artists	are	cognizant	of	the	fact	they	are	making	art	and	that	there	is	a	market	for	it.	Their	inspiration	typically	comes	from	extrinsic	sources,	such	as	daily	life	and	religion.	Outsider	art,	however,	suggests	an	alternative	way	of	being	(Danto,	1998).	It	venerates	artists	who	are	outside	society’s	influences	and,	as	Cardinal	said,	it	hints	at	a	connection	with	outlaws	(Volkerz,	1998).	Outsider	art	becomes	self-taught	art	In	the	United	States,	admiration	for	the	common	man	and,	more	formally,	the	goals	of	the	civil	rights	movement	were	defining	principles	in	its	social	history	(Fine,	2004,	p.	13).	The	United	States	adopted	the	term	outsider	art	to	describe	art	brut,	then	later	chose	the	term	self-taught	to	avoid	the	stigma	attached	to	the	former.	As	many	of	these	artists	are	already	on	the	margins	of	society	as	a	result	of	discrimination	and	prejudice,	the	term	is	thought	to	offer	more	dignity	to	the	artists	and	their	position	in	the	art	world.		What	does	self-taught	mean?	The	term	is	deceptively	simple,	but	it	can	be	misleading.	Many	mainstream	artists	are	self-taught,	and	many	self-taught	artists	are	trained	in	another	profession	(Rousseau,	2014).	It	would	seem	to	describe	art	hobbyists,	but	it	does	not.	Nor	is	it	synonymous	with	outsider,	as	the	term	is	far	too	broad	to	include	all	types	of	outsider	art	that	have	been	labelled	as	such.	In	short,	self-taught	art	is	“self-referential	and	fuelled	by	first-hand	experience”	(Rousseau,	2014,	p.	43).	 		38	An	American	self-taught	artist	is	a	non-traditional,	untrained	artist	who	works	outside	the	mainstream	art	world.	Like	outsider	artists,	he	or	she	exhibits	the	same	creative	impulses,	but	the	reason	for	acknowledging	such	art	is	different.	Unlike	outsider	artists,	American	self-taught	artists	are	not	described	in	terms	of	psychopathology	or	unrestrained	creative	expression.	Instead,	they	are	described	as	‘common	men’	whose	authenticity	portrays	culture	in	individual	ways	(Russell,	2011).	In	the	mainstream	art	world,	it	is	typically	viewed	as	an	extension	of	folk	art.	Herein	lies	the	distinction,	in	my	view,	between	self-taught	art	in	the	United	States	and	outsider	art	as	defined	by	the	international	community:	its	roots	lie	in	folk	art,	not	the	personal	biography	of	the	artist.		The	American	Folk	Art	Museum	succinctly	describes	the	self-taught	movement	in	the	United	States:	The	idea	of	“self-taught”	in	America	is	entrenched	in	a	culture	of	self-actualization	that	was	fundamental	to	the	revolutionary	temperament	and	critical	to	the	growth	and	success	of	a	new	nation.	To	understand	the	special	place	the	term	holds	in	American	experience,	one	must	first	trace	its	path	from	the	genesis	of	genius	in	Europe	and	the	principles	of	Enlightenment	to	the	development	of	the	American	identity	and	the	connotations	of	the	term	today.	(Hollander,	2014,	p.	17)	Self-taught	became	a	widespread	and	endorsed	culture	that	was	endemic	to	American	thought,	spirit,	and	achievement,	and	that	stemmed	from	the	earlier	arguments	about	genius	and	the	development	of	faculty	psychology	as	a	tool	for	self-realization.	(Hollander,	2014,	p.	24)	One	of	the	fundamental	differences	between	self-taught	art	and	mainstream	art	lies	in	whether	the	artist	participates	in	conversations	with	art	institutions	as	to	what	art	is	and	ought	to	be.	The	contemporary	mainstream	artist	may	move	away	from	a	preferred	style	but	the	folk	artist	probably	will	not.	Without	the	critical	dialogue	between	artist	and	art	 		39	institution,	there	is	no	impetus	to	move	on	(Danto,	1998).	One	art	critic	has	summed	it	up	as	follows,	and	his	comments	are	applicable	to	folk,	outsider,	and	self-taught	artists:	An	outsider	artist	doesn’t	belong	to	the	art	world,	and	has	arrived	at	his	or	her	art	without	benefit	of	participation	in	the	discourse	of	reasons	that	defines	the	artworld	at	any	given	moment.…	Therefore,	it	is	in	reference	to	the	artworld	that	one	should	define	outsiders.	(Danto,	1998,	p.	25)	In	short,	to	be	an	artist	means	to	have	internalized	the	prevailing	discourse	of	the	art	world.	To	be	a	[fill	in	the	blank]	artist	is	to	be	external	to	those	discourses	(Danto,	1998).	African-American	self-taught	art	from	the	South	The	civil	rights	movement	that	peaked	in	the	1960s	was	a	worldwide	phenomenon	that	initially	challenged	the	status	of	women	and	minority	groups.	The	black	civil	rights	movement	focussed	on	issues	of	racial	segregation	and	discrimination	against	African-Americans.	It	was	a	defining	event	for	recognition	of	self-taught	artists	in	the	United	States	(Fine,	2004).	By	the	time	of	the	American	Bicentennial	in	1976,	much	attention	was	focused	on	self-taught	art,	particularly	that	of	African-Americans.	It	is	said	that	an	exhibit,	Black	Folk	Art,	which	travelled	to	museums	across	the	country,	resulted	in	an	artistic	canon	for	such	art.	(The	20	artists	exhibited	there	established	a	‘who’s	who’	of	black	folk	artists;	that	list	is	still	important	today	(Fine,	2004)).	Attention	was	focused	on	the	(rural)	South	and	until	recently,	in	the	eyes	of	the	cultural	elite,	it	was	America’s	backward	and	exotic	internal	colony.	The	perception	of	‘region’	(a	social	construction)	affects	the	search	for	and	appreciation	of	artwork	(Fine,	2004).	 		40	Interest	in	African-American	self-taught	art	from	the	South	has	continued	to	grow.	The	Metropolitan	Museum	of	Art	recently	received	a	major	gift	of	work	by	African-American	self-taught	artists	from	the	South:	57	paintings,	drawings,	mixed-media	pieces,	and	quilts	by	30	artists.	Its	donor,	Arnett,	had	long	argued	that	these	artists	deserved	serious	recognition	and	that	it	was	the	end	of	an	era	for	this	type	of	art.	Acceptance	of	the	gift	signalled	“efforts—and	this	is	happening	across	the	world—to	discover	neglected	artists	or	neglected	times”	(Williams,	2014).	The	curator	of	an	upcoming	exhibit	in	2016	acknowledged	that	these	artists	had	been	neglected	and	were	without	an	art-historical	record.	She	commented	that	the	carefully	maintained	and	documented	collection	from	the	donor	was	“a	kind	of	rescue	operation	that	I’ve	found	incredibly	moving”	(Williams,	2014).	The	museum	noted	that	the	collection	adds	to	the	American	story	of	the	20th	century,	not	just	the	African-American	story.	One	of	the	issues,	of	course,	with	associating	predominantly	African-American	artists	from	the	South	with	self-taught	American	art	is	that	it	tends	to	give	a	singular	and	stereotyped	view	of	African-American	art:	that	is,	even	though	they	live	in	poverty	and	isolation,	they	are	in	touch	with	deeper,	intuitive	urges	(Berger,	1998).	The	Romantic	ideology	still	lives	on.	Instead	of	envying	the	freedom	that	comes	with	madness,	perhaps	marginalized	groups	are	our	new	Romantic	heroes.	It	has	been	observed	that	outsider	art	collectors	are	almost	entirely	Caucasian.	At	least	one	African-American	self-taught	artist	notes	that	he	has	never	sold	a	work	to	an	African-American.	While	they	might	collect	African	work	or	contemporary	art	from	trained	(mainstream)	African-American	artists,	they	may	ignore	self-taught	works	because	white	 		41	collectors	enshrine	it	as	primitive,	and	more	particularly,	as	the	life	they	left	behind	(Fine,	2004).	In	a	catalogue	essay	for	an	exhibit	of	African-American	self-taught	artists	from	the	South,	rapper	Jason	“PyInfamous”	Thompson	wrote	that	the	artists’	works	are	not	traditional	because	“no	artist—no	person—that	has	endured	the	sweltering,	seething	heat	of	Southern	segregation	and	sectarianism	can	be	considered	‘traditional.’	In	a	land	where	tradition	included	nooses	and	nihilism,	there	was	a	necessity	to	express	the	anxiety	and	anguish	that	came	with	being	Black	in	the	South”	(Thompson,	2014,	p.	5).	Southern	self-taught	artists—most	certainly	African-American	artists—have	unique	iconographies,	but	a	shared	context.	Referencing	Cardinal’s	archipelago	analogy,	each	artist	is	not	an	island	unto	himself;	they	live	on	the	same	continent,	connected	by	a	shared	history.		The	Search	for	Consistency		Dubuffet’s	search	for	authenticity	inspired	others	to	identify	artists	producing	authentic	art.	These	other	forms	were	embraced	by	some	Americans	who	accepted	that	outsider	art	can	come	in	many	forms.	Others,	however,	were	reluctant	to	recognize	art	beyond	the	parameters	that	Dubuffet	established.	Inevitably,	new	terminology	was	coined	to	distinguish	between	art	forms	and	many	of	those	terms	have	never	been	reconciled.	Yet,	as	many	scholars	have	pointed	out,	there	is	little	hope	of	reaching	consensus	when	the	art	itself	is	so	tenuously	connected	aesthetically,	historically,	and	theoretically	(Berger,	1998).	With	so	much	dissention	among	scholars,	I	sought	out	the	perspectives	of	those	who	are	 		42	fully	invested	in	the	world	of	outsider	art—the	artists	and	the	art	dealers	who	represent	them	in	the	marketplace.	 		43	Chapter	4: The	Inside	View	Introduction	Although	Dubuffet	was	vigilant	about	controlling	the	parameters	of	his	original	art	brut	collection,	his	intention	was	to	liberate	art	and	artists	from	stereotyped	ideals.	One	can	only	speculate	on	Dubuffet’s	views	on	the	efforts	to	institutionalize	outsider	art	today.	The	gatekeepers	of	this	recently	defined	genre	are	not	so	much	pushing	against	the	established	art	world	as	defining	the	borders	of	a	new	territory.	It	has	been	said	that	this	new	institution—composed	of	dealers,	curators,	and	scholars—controls	the	scene:	they	decide	what	qualifies	as	outsider	art	(and	what	does	not),	what	can	be	exhibited	at	organized	events,	and	what	artists	may	be	included	in	the	revered	art	brut	collection	in	Lausanne	(Peiry,	2001).	As	an	observer	of	the	outsider	art	world,	I	have	noticed	a	shift	towards	institutionalization	over	the	past	five	years.	In	2009,	the	annual	Outsider	Art	Fair	in	New	York	was	housed	on	an	empty	floor	of	an	office	building	in	the	business	district.	The	atmosphere	was	casual	and	there	was	an	eclectic	mix	of	artwork	on	offer.	A	booth	filled	with	handcrafted	fabric	items	from	Haiti	was	located	next	to	a	booth	exhibiting	classic	outsider	art	from	Switzerland;	a	booth	of	art	from	psychiatric	patients	in	Norway	stood	next	to	an	exhibit	of	American	evangelical	artists.		In	more	recent	years,	however,	the	exhibit	was	moved	to	a	separate,	three-story	building	in	an	arts	district	of	the	city.	The	vendors	selling	folk	art	curiosities	have	disappeared	and	the	overall	impression	is	more	polished.	I	learned	that	new	owners	of	the	 		44	art	fair	were	seeking	to	control	what	artworks	were	exhibited,	with	a	view	to	excluding	work	deemed	inappropriate.	In	my	view,	this	shift	reflects	the	growing	market	of	outsider	art.	I	questioned	how	art	dealers	were	faring	in	the	controlled	environment	and	what	effect	it	had	on	the	artists.	I	spoke	at	length	with	one	art	dealer	about	the	evolution	of	outsider	art	during	her	career.	I	also	spoke	with	artists,	on	a	casual	and	informal	basis,	about	their	practices	and	solicited	their	thoughts	about	being	an	artist.	What	follows	are	my	reflections	and	observations	from	inside	the	world	of	outsider	art.	The	Artists	My	first	knowledge	of	outsider	artists	came	from	books,	which	gave	me	a	somewhat	distorted	picture	of	their	lives.	My	introduction	to	outsider	artists	was	‘virtual’,	but	my	recent	explorations	brought	me	in	contact	with	many	living	artists,	and	that	has	been	an	immeasurably	rich	experience.	All	have	been	generous	in	sharing	their	thoughts	with	me,	explaining	when	and	why	art	making	became	the	focus	of	their	lives	and	what	it	has	meant	to	them.	While,	of	course,	every	artist	has	his	or	her	own	personal	story	to	tell,	I	have	noted	some	common	themes	in	their	narratives.	My	understanding	of	what	it	means	to	be	a	mainstream	artist	comes	from	knowing	artists	who	live	and	work	in	that	world.	He	or	she	studied	at	an	art	institution;	is	knowledgeable	about	art	history,	practices	and	trends;	fosters	relationships	with	curators,	collectors	and	other	artists;	solicits	interest	from	gallery	directors;	and	ultimately	hopes	to	exhibit,	sell,	and	be	acknowledged	for	their	vision,	skill	and	talent.	In	short,	the	goal	is	to	be	a	recognized,	successful	artist.	 		45	What	I	have	learned	from	outsider	artists	is	very	different—in	fact,	none	of	the	common	characteristics	of	a	mainstream	artist	can	be	used	to	describe	them.	I	have	never	met	an	outsider	artist	who	planned	to	be	an	artist	in	any	sense	of	the	word;	in	fact,	they	are	often	reluctant	to	call	themselves	artists,	as	that	label	has	been	given	by	others.	Roger	Manley,	an	American	museum	director,	once	told	me	that	outsider	artists	typically	begin	creating	late	in	their	lives	after	a	tragic	and	life-changing	event,	such	as	a	terrible	accident	or	the	loss	of	a	loved	one.	While	I	have	observed	that	art	making	often	begins	in	mid-life,	there	is	not	always	a	negative	triggering	event	for	the	onset	of	creativity.	It	is	possible	that	these	artists	have	chosen	not	to	disclose	such	an	event	to	me,	but	I	have	noted	that	the	creative	urge	may	arrive	suddenly,	often	to	the	surprise	of	the	artist.		If	there	is	no	intention	to	be	an	artist,	what	motivates	outsider	artists	to	start	creating?	In	my	experience,	artists	describe	their	creative	drive	in	a	variety	of	ways:	answering	to	a	higher	power,	responding	to	an	imperative	(a	compulsion),	or	discovering	a	form	of	self-therapy.		There	are	many	documented	cases	of	artists	who	reveal	that	God	instructed	them	to	create	art,	sometimes	to	convey	a	religious	message	(e.g.,	Sister	Gertrude	Morgan	and	Howard	Finster).	Through	my	limited	introductions	to	Canadian	outsider	artists,	I	have	met	two	who	attribute	their	gift	to	a	higher	(spiritual)	power.	I	recently	met	William	Anhang	(1931–)	an	octogenarian	outsider	artist	in	Montreal.	Anhang	was	an	engineer	and	had	no	exposure	to	art	in	his	life.	It	wasn’t	until	he	took	his	children	to	a	demonstration	of	copper	enamelling	in	the	mid-70s	that	he	was	inspired	to	create	works	of	his	own.	The	pivotal	point,	Anhang	recalls,	is	when	by	chance	he	met	a	Guru	 		46	who	told	him	to	be	an	artist.	He	felt	he	had	no	option	but	to	follow	this	instruction,	and	so	he	abandoned	engineering	and	began	his	new	life.	He	has	been	experimenting	with	copper	and	fibre	optics	ever	since.	Anhang	explained	that	he	heard	the	voice	of	God,	who	instructed	him	to	spread	His	word	through	art.	In	a	sense,	Anhang	believes	he	is	a	Messiah,	as	God	singled	him	out	for	a	purpose.	Anhang	has	had	several	more	divine	visitations	since	then	and	knows	that	God	is	always	with	him.	Other	than	describing	these	divine	appearances	in	personal	conversations,	Anhang	does	not	dwell	on	his	connection	to	God;	he	accepts	it	as	a	fact	of	his	life	and	the	source	of	his	creative	energy.	I	have	seen	hundreds	of	Anhang’s	creations	and,	unlike	artists	Morgan	and	Finster,	none	have	a	religious	theme.	His	spiritual	beliefs	give	him	motivation	and	purpose,	but	they	do	not	inform	the	subject	of	his	creations.	The	history	of	outsider	art	includes	those	who	experience	mediumistic	drawing,	that	is,	they	produce	automatic	drawings	through	direction	from	the	spirit	world	(e.g.,	Madge	Gill	and	Guo	Fengyi).	I	was	recently	introduced	to	the	work	of	Canadian	artist,	Alma	Rumball	(1902–1980),	who	produced	work	of	the	same	description.	Rumball	was	from	a	pioneering	family	who	settled	in	Ontario	in	the	1870s.	She	used	to	draw	as	a	child,	and	eventually	left	the	farm	to	work	as	a	painter	in	a	ceramics	factory	in	Toronto.	By	all	accounts	she	enjoyed	a	typical	social	life	there.	When	she	returned	to	the	farm	in	the	1950s,	her	life	took	a	dramatic	and	unexpected	turn.	Rumball	became	a	recluse	and	did	not	venture	out	except	for	family	functions.	About	that	time,	Jesus	appeared,	with	a	panther,	and	commanded	her	to	draw	and	write	in	order	to	help	humanity.	She	understood	 		47	there	were	other	levels	of	spiritual	existence	and	began	to	communicate	with	a	‘genius’—a	turbaned	spiritual	guide	named	Aba.5		Rumball	referred	to	her	spiritual	guide	as	“the	Hand.”	She	watched	as	it	chose	art	materials	and	drew	detailed	drawings	and	images	on	its	own.	She	said:	“I’m	as	excited	to	see	what	the	Hand	will	do	as	you	are.	I	can’t	accept	credit	for	them	(the	drawings);	you	see,	I	don’t	do	them”	(Oke,	2004,	n.p.).	She	watched	as	the	Hand	drew	images	of	unfamiliar	forms	and	faces,	such	as	Joan	of	Arc,	Tibetan	gods,	and	images	of	Atlantis.	In	her	experience,	something	(like	a	spirit),	took	over	her	conscious	self	and	produced	the	drawings.	The	spirit,	not	the	artist,	was	the	source	of	the	message	(Oke,	2004).	Every	outsider	artist	I	know	describes	his	or	her	art	making	as	a	compulsion	(and	art	dealers	and	collectors	usually	make	the	same	observation	about	the	artists).	While	one	could	say	that	every	artist	is	driven	to	create,	it	is	an	imperative	for	outsider	artists.	They	might	create	art	all	day,	every	day.	Images	may	be	endlessly	repeated,	suggesting	to	me	that	the	process	of	creation,	rather	than	the	outcome,	consumes	the	artist.	Or	perhaps	some	internal	issue	is	being	examined.	Canvasses	are	not	necessary	for	painting	and	so	one	never	runs	out	of	materials:	boards,	scraps	of	paper,	boxes,	and	walls	also	serve	the	purpose.	I	have	seen	houses	so	filled	with	artwork	that	it	is	difficult	to	find	a	place	to	walk	or	sit	down.	I	have	heard	many	artists	describe	their	art	making	as	a	therapeutic	exercise.	An	astute	observer	of	outsider	art	proposed	this	idea:	what	if	your	therapy	became	art?	(Malmberg,	n.d.,	n.p.),	and	that	thought	always	comes	to	mind	when	I	meet	with	artists.	It	is																																																								 5	Interestingly,	the	panther	totem	traditionally	represents	spiritual	knowing	and	is	said	to	present	itself	to	those	who	are	intuitive,	psychic,	and	artistically	inclined.	 		48	important	to	understand	that	art	therapy	and	art	as	therapy	are	not	the	same.	Art	therapy	is	an	interactive,	creative,	therapeutic	process	where	thoughts	and	feelings	that	are	difficult	to	articulate	can	be	expressed	(Canadian	Art	Therapy	Association,	n.d.,	n.p.).	Outsider	artists	I	know	are	not	engaged	in	art	therapy,	but	rather	a	personal,	non-directed,	and	reflective	act	of	creation.	In	some	instances,	they	may	have	produced	their	work	in	an	open	art	studio	where	an	art	professional	provides	instruction	on	the	use	of	materials,	but	mental	health	workers	are	not	involved.	Their	artwork	is	not	directed	or	examined	and	is	not	(intentionally)	used	as	a	tool	for	personal	insight	and	growth.	I	visited	an	open	studio	in	Vancouver,	sponsored	by	the	Coast	Mental	Health	Association.	Mentors	and	participants	told	me	the	same	thing:	It	is	the	creation	of	the	artwork	that	provides	the	therapy,	not	the	interpretation	of	it.	Clearly	the	most	important	act	was	the	process	of	creating	art,	not	the	end	product.	It	is	not	art	therapy.	It	is	art	as	therapy.	I	learned	more	about	the	therapeutic	nature	of	art	making	from	speaking	directly	with	artists.	One	artist	(Cooney)	describes	the	benefits	of	his	creative	periods:	the	intense	focus	he	needs	to	create	art	gives	him	a	brief	reprieve	from	his	extreme	ADD	symptoms.	Another	(Ogilvie)	explains	that	she	discontinued	medication	for	her	mental	illness,	deciding	she	could	best	care	for	herself	by	dedicating	herself	to	painting.	She	described	herself	as	stable	and	happy;	art	was	her	therapy.	And	many	art	workshop	directors	have	told	me	that	art	heals	even	when	it	is	done	for	no	specific	purpose	and	without	instruction.	I	often	think	of	artist	Renaldo	Kuhler	(1921–2013),	whom	I	met	in	2011.	Kuhler	worked	secretly	most	of	his	adult	life	to	create	the	fantasy	world	of	Rocaterrania.	His	fantasy	nation	was	described	in	(invented)	text	and	meticulous	paintings,	detailing	the	lives	 		49	of	emperors,	czars,	presidents,	dictators,	and	civilians.	In	talking	with	him,	I	discovered	that	I	misinterpreted	Kuhler’s	opus	as	a	fantastic	tale.	Rather,	Kuhler	explained	that	it	was	his	way	of	dealing	with	his	troubled	life.	Always	a	misfit,	he	felt	ostracized,	misunderstood,	and	a	failure	to	his	father.	His	complex	fantasy	world	had	elements	that	were	easy	to	understand:	people	who	did	not	treat	him	well	in	real	life	were	recreated	as	citizens	of	Rocaterrania	who	suffered	abominable	events;	those	who	had	been	kind	to	him	in	life	were	rewarded	in	his	private	domain.	When	I	asked	Kuhler	which	character	represented	him	in	Rocaterrania,	he	made	the	most	telling	statement.	He	said,	“I	am	Rocaterrania.”	I	then	understood	the	magnitude	and	depth	of	his	practice—it	was	not	simply	entertainment,	but	his	own	form	of	self-therapy.		I	have	noted	a	tendency	among	artists	to	keep	their	art-making	practices	private	until	they	feel	comfortable	about	disclosing	their	work	or	it	is	accidently	discovered.	I	have	met	people	whom	others	described	as	an	artist,	but	they	would	not	allow	me	to	see	their	work.	In	all	cases,	the	artwork	is	described	as	“just	something	I	do,”	not	believing	it	would	be	of	interest	to	anyone	else.	When	I	ask	if	they	consider	themselves	to	be	artists,	a	long	pause	inevitably	follows.	Sometimes	they	indicate	that	they	have	never	thought	about	it	until	I	asked	the	question;	sometimes	they	say,	“I	guess	so.”	Professional	artists	I	have	known	are	concerned	about	their	success,	which	they	typically	define	as:	acceptance	by	a	well-respected	art	gallery,	holding	regular	exhibits,	enjoying	good	reviews	and	frequent	sales,	and	in	general,	being	able	to	make	a	living	as	an	artist.	Outsider	artists	I	have	met	do	not	define	success	in	the	same	terms.	To	be	a	successful	outsider	artist	means	having	access	to	unlimited	art	supplies	and	unlimited	time	 		50	to	create.	Public	recognition—and	the	money	that	follows—is	not	the	goal	of	an	outsider	artist.	I	have	explored	this	with	many	artists	and	have	consistently	heard	the	same	response:	financial	reward	is	irrelevant.	One	artist	I	know	(Krant)	refused	to	collect	money	held	by	a	gallery	for	sales	of	his	work.	In	his	view,	money	threatened	to	change	his	much	cherished,	simple	lifestyle.		There	is	one	feature	of	outsider	art	that	I	have	not	explored	with	others,	and	that	is	my	comparison	of	art	making	to	a	soliloquy.	I	found	it	significant	that	the	Central	Pavilion	at	the	2013	Venice	Biennale	housed	C.	G.	Jung’s	recently	released	Liber	Novus.	In	the	form	of	an	illuminated	manuscript,	The	Red	Book	(as	it	is	now	called)	documents	Jung’s	private	imaginative	experiences	over	a	period	of	15	years:	From	December	1913	onward,	he	carried	on	in	the	same	procedure:	deliberately	evoking	a	fantasy	in	a	waking	state,	and	then	entering	into	it	as	into	a	drama.	These	fantasies	may	be	understood	as	a	type	of	dramatized	thinking	in	pictorial	form....	In	retrospect,	he	recalled	that	his	scientific	question	was	to	see	what	took	place	when	he	switched	off	consciousness.	(Shamdasani,	2009,	p.	221)	Jung	described	this	liminal	place	of	self-induced	visions	as	one	of	creative	abundance	and	potential	ruin,	the	same	places	travelled	by	lunatics	and	great	artists.	He	called	them	“cryptograms	of	the	self”	(Gioni,	2013,	p.	24).	The	Venice	Biennale	catalogue	proposes	that	The	Red	Book	is	not	a	work	of	art,	but	rather	a	collection	of	primordial	images	that	are	capable	of	combining	a	personal	destiny	with	a	collective	one.	It	asks	us	to	ponder	how	we	can	rediscover	the	intensity	of	those	images	today	(Gioni,	2013,	p.	25).	It	is	remarkably	similar	to	the	question	posed	by	Dubuffet	in	his	search	for	pure	art.	Co-exhibiting	The	Red	Book	and	outsider	art	at	the	Venice	Biennale	challenged	viewers	to	draw	a	parallel	between	the	two;	that	is,	both	Jung	and	the	outsider	artists	were	 		51	giving	form	to—or	perhaps	illustrating—their	inner	worlds.	In	my	view,	Jung’s	drawings	are	indistinguishable	from	those	of	outsider	artists.	But	one	important	fact	was	not	elucidated	at	the	Venice	Biennale:	in	both	cases,	the	artwork	was	created	for	themselves,	not	for	public	view.	The	Red	Book	was	sometimes	present	in	Jung’s	office,	but	only	a	few	trusted	people	were	given	an	opportunity	to	see	it.	Upon	his	death	in	1961,	Jung’s	heirs	secured	it	in	a	vault	and	refused	access	to	it	by	scholars	and	others	(Corbett,	2009).		My	understanding	of	what	it	means	to	think	in	‘pictorial	form’	leads	me	to	believe	that	the	work	of	an	outsider	artist	is	indeed	a	soliloquy:	the	act	of	talking	to	oneself;	a	dramatic	monologue	that	represents	a	series	of	unspoken	reflections (Merriam-Webster		Dictionary	Online,	(n.d.,	n.p.).	The	creations	are	not	about	art	or	about	the	human	condition.	They	are	about	the	artist’s	individual	experience	(Cristine,	1987).	New	Museum,	n.d.,	n.p.)	An	outsider	artist’s	entire	life’s	work	can	be	the	creation	of	a	private,	fantasy	world,	sometimes	to	narrate	their	own	story	or	perhaps	to	understand,	reinterpret,	or	reinvent	it.	It	is	an	intensely	personal	practice.	And	it	is	the	process—as	opposed	to	the	outcome—of	creation	that	is	important	(Zug,	1994).	Perhaps	it	is	a	process	of	self-discovery	(Cardinal,	1972),	arising	from	their	inner	selves	(Rhodes,	2000).	“The	act	becomes	inseparable	from	the	individual,	as	a	religion	is	for	a	minister”	(Rousseau,	2014,	p.	53).	For	me,	the	essential	difference	between	outsider	art	and	mainstream	art	is	captured	in	this	concept.	Mainstream	artists	draw	me	into	a	dialogue;	outsider	artists	do	not.	Rather,	I	feel	that	I	am	witness	to	a	private	event.		 		52	To	illustrate	this	point,	I	compare	the	work	of	British	contemporary	artist,	Chris	Ofili	with	one	of	Prinzhorn’s	patients,	Brendel	(Karl	Genzel).	Ofili	used	elephant	dung	in	several	of	his	pieces;	Brendel	made	sculpted	figures	out	of	chewed	bread	dough.	The	New	Museum	offers	this	critique	of	Ofili’s	work:	Ofili’s	hybrid	juxtapositions	of	high	and	low,	and	of	the	sacred	and	the	profane,	simultaneously	celebrate	and	call	into	question	the	power	of	images	and	their	ability	to	address	fundamental	questions	of	representation.	(New	Museum,	n.d.,	n.p.)	Both	artworks	utilize	unorthodox	material,	but	Ofili’s	decision	to	use	elephant	dung	was	intended	to	shock	the	viewer.	To	stand	before	his	work	is	to	engage	in	a	dialogue	with	Ofili	about	the	power	of	images	in	contemporary	culture.	Brendel,	I	suggest,	had	no	such	intention.	Locked	away	in	a	psychiatric	institution,	he	had	no	access	to	conventional	art	materials.	Like	many	outsider	artists,	he	improvised	and	created	with	whatever	material	was	at	hand.	While	there	may	be	similar	aesthetic	features	of	an	outsider	piece	and	a	work	of	mainstream	art,	the	similarity	ends	there.	As	Danto	(1998)	said,	there	is	no	greater	illusion	in	art	than	the	view	that	similarity	of	object	entails	similarity	of	vision.	Some	have	suggested	that	the	unique	iconographies	of	outsider	artists	are	a	strategy	to	obscure	their	meaning	(Rousseau,	2014).	That	is	not	my	view.	Such	thinking	further	distances	us	from	the	artist’s	humanity	and	romanticizes	the	artist’s	intention.	It	is	equally	likely	that	the	artist’s	use	of	metaphor	is	simply	one	that	we	do	not	understand.		It	is	tempting	to	attribute	meaning	and	intention	to	the	work	of	outsider	artists,	but	that,	I	believe,	is	only	an	act	of	conjecture.	Outsider	artists	are	not	inclined	to	speak	about	their	work	and	art	dealers	and	scholars	often	supply	interpretation.	This	undoubtedly	adds	to	the	mystery	(and	falsehoods)	surrounding	outsider	art.	 		53	The	Art	Dealers	Art	dealers	and	curators	are	uniquely	positioned	to	observe	both	the	creation	of	art	and	the	art	market	and	I	considered	it	important	to	include	their	perspective	in	preparing	this	thesis.	I	completed	a	six-week	internship	at	Intuit—the	Center	for	Intuitive	and	Outsider	Art,	in	Chicago.	It	is	the	only	not-for-profit	organization	in	the	United	States	that	is	solely	dedicated	to	presenting	outsider	art.	It	offers	exhibitions,	resources	for	scholars	and	students,	a	large	permanent	collection,	and	educational	programming	for	children	and	adults.	Its	mission	statement	says:	Intuit	is	a	not-for-profit	organization	founded	in	1991.	Our	mission	is	to	promote	public	awareness,	understanding,	and	appreciation	of	intuitive	and	outsider	art	through	a	program	of	education,	exhibition,	collecting	and	publishing.		 Intuit	defines	“intuitive	and	outsider	art”	as	work	of	artists	who	demonstrate	little	influence	from	the	mainstream	art	world	and	who	instead	are	motivated	by	their	unique	personal	visions.	This	includes	what	is	known	as	art	brut,	non-traditional	folk	art,	self-taught	art,	and	visionary	art.	(Intuit,	n.d.-a,	n.p.)	During	my	internship,6	I	began	to	appreciate	the	relationship	between	artists,	galleries,	art	institutions,	and	academic	institutions.	I	met	with	university	professors	who	taught	courses	in	outsider	art,	gallery	owners,	artists,	and	of	course,	Intuit’s	staff	and	Board	members.	I	was	also	afforded	an	opportunity	to	review	school	curricula	on	the	subject,	meet	teachers,	and	observe	school	children	as	they	explored	outsider	art.	I	would	not	have	been	able	to	appreciate	the	complexity	and	richness	of	the	American	experience	without	having	immersed	myself	in	an	environment	that	fully	embraces	outsider	art.																																																								 6	I	participated	in	a	six-week	informal	internship,	working	mainly	with	Joel	Javier,	Education	Manager.	Javier	received	his	BFA	in	studio	art	from	Murray	State	University	and	an	MA	in	Art	Education	from	the	School	of	the	Art	Institute	of	Chicago	(SAIC)	as	a	merit	scholar	in	2011.	In	addition	to	participating	in	all	educational	outreach	programs,	I	contributed	to	the	database	of	artist’s	biographies.		 		54	I	understand	the	mainstream	art	business	to	be	hierarchical:	museums	and	scholars	are	at	the	top,	galleries	and	dealers	are	in	the	middle,	and	artists	are	at	the	bottom.	By	this	I	mean	that	to	gain	recognition,	professional	artists	must	be	accepted	(and	valued)	by	those	above	them	in	the	hierarchy;	their	career	is	dependent	on	the	gatekeepers	of	mainstream	art.	Outsider	art	was	conceived	outside	this	hierarchy.	In	fact,	the	very	reason	for	its	creation	was	to	challenge	the	institutionalization	of	art.	Until	Dubuffet	assembled	and	named	the	art	brut	collection,	outsider	artists	were	idiosyncratic	oddities.7		As	interest	in	outsider	art	grew,	and	a	market	for	it	was	established,	there	was	a	gradual	shift	in	perception;	outsider	art	could	be	identified	and	appraised.	And,	perhaps	inevitably,	an	‘institution’	of	outsider	art	has	developed.	I	hoped	to	learn	more	about	that	development	and	spoke	with	several	art	dealers	in	Chicago	who	were	as	bemused	as	I	with	the	growing	number	of	outsider	art	definitions	and	the	shifting	landscape	of	the	genre.	I	have	also	spoken	many	times	with	New	York	art	dealer,	Marion	Harris,	who	has	an	interesting	perspective	as	a	latecomer	to	the	world	of	outsider	art.		Harris	had	been	an	antique	dealer	until	she	discovered	boxes	of	old	photographs	and	hand-made	figures	at	a	Boston	collectibles	fair	in	1993.	She	did	not	know	exactly	what	she	was	buying,	but	suspected	it	was	worth	investigating	and	followed	her	intuition.	The	boxes	contained	an	unusual	collection	found	upon	the	death	of	a	reclusive	man	in	Chicago,	named	Morton	Bartlett.	Little	is	known	about	Bartlett,	aside	from	bits	of	information	from	a	few	casual	acquaintances.	He	was	orphaned	at	a	young	age	and	later	attended	Phillips																																																								 7	See,	for	example,	Cambridge-educated	Aleister	Crowley	(1875–1947)	who	was	a	painter,	poet,	prophet,	occultist	and	magician	known	for	his	eccentric	beliefs.	See	also	Adolf	Wolfli	(1864–1930),	perhaps	the	most	celebrated	outsider	artist,	who	was	jailed	for	sexual	predation,	diagnosed	with	a	psychiatric	disorder,	and	committed	for	the	rest	of	his	life	to	a	psychiatric	hospital.		 		55	Exeter	Academy	and	Harvard,	where	he	studied	for	two	years.	He	never	married.	He	worked	in	a	series	of	jobs,	from	advertising	photographer,	gas	station	manager,	and	travelling	furniture	salesman.	He	did	not	study	art	professionally.	In	his	very	private	life,	between	1936	and	1963,	Bartlett	created	15	plaster	sculptures	of	half-size	to	scale	children	and	made	the	clothes	to	dress	them—from	frocks	and	hand-knit	sweaters	for	the	girls	to	shorts	and	caps	for	the	boys.	The	aim	of	Bartlett’s	remarkable	project	seems	to	have	been	to	photograph	children	doing	things	that	ordinary	children	do:	playing,	dancing,	reading,	and	sleeping.	Except	for	a	magazine	interview	he	gave	in	1962,	he	kept	his	life’s	work	private.	It	only	became	public	after	he	died	in	1992	and	Harris	acquired	some	of	his	personal	items.	What	Harris	discovered	was	the	work	of	a	classic	outsider	artist	who	taught	himself,	in	private,	how	to	achieve	his	artistic	vision.	His	neighbours	had	no	knowledge	of	his	secret	world.		Today	Bartlett	is	an	icon	in	the	outsider	art	world,	but	acceptance—for	both	Harris	and	Bartlett—was	slow	and	painful.	Harris	described	the	difficulties	she	experienced	in	bringing	the	work	to	market.	In	her	view,	the	‘intelligentsia’	of	the	outsider	art	world	(powerful	dealers,	curators,	and	scholars)	have	tight	control	over	all	matters	in	the	field,	such	as	what	defines	outsider	art,	what	has	aesthetic	value,	what	works	can	be	exhibited	at	the	Outsider	Art	Fair,	and	so	on.	Harris	felt	blocked	at	every	turn	as	the	gatekeepers	declared	Bartlett’s	work	to	be	the	worthless	endeavour	of	a	pedophile.	Sensitive	to	this	accusation,	Harris	sought	the	opinion	of	psychologists,	psychiatrists,	art	historians,	and	academic	scholars	who	individually	concluded	that	the	body	of	work	served	as	Bartlett’s	 		56	surrogate	family	and	his	need	for	family	life.	By	engaging	in	this	project,	he	ensured	the	fantasy	remained	just	that—fantasy	(Harris,	2002).		Harris	compares	Bartlett	to	Lewis	Carrol,	whose	reputation	was	tarnished	by	rumours	of	his	inappropriate	attentions	to	children.	There	is	no	way	to	know	the	reality	of	Bartlett’s	life,	but	there	has	been	much	speculation	as	to	his	motives.	One	author	acknowledges	the	erotic	nature	of	Bartlett’s	photographs,	but	argues	for	their	acceptance:	[Bartlett]	would	not	be	the	first	to	have	fashioned	such	intense	images	of	desire,	or	invested	them	with	a	kind	of	life….	At	the	deepest	level,	Bartlett’s	work	is	not	about	violation	but	contemplation.	We	surmise	this	because	he	took	carefully	composed	photographs	of	his	creations.	Again,	Bartlett	was	not	the	first	to	couple	dolls,	desire,	and	photography.	Apart	from	Cindy	Sherman’s	work	of	the	1990s,	the	best-known	example	is	that	of	German	Hans	Bellmer,	who	created	several	articulated	“figures”	in	the	1930s	and	photographed	them	incessantly.	Bellmer	enacted	scenes	with	his	dolls,	rearranging	their	parts	in	a	full-scale	assault	on	the	female	body	and,	overtly,	on	the	Nazi	ideology	of	physical	perfection.	Photography	in	this	case	was	pornographic	witness	of	various	acts	of	desecration.	Undeniably	erotic,	Bartlett’s	photos	intend	and	achieve	something	Bellmer	avoided—poignancy.	They	also	reveal	the	power	of	the	camera,	by	its	fidelity	to	the	subject,	to	bestow	life.	In	three	dimensions,	the	dolls	are,	finally,	just	dolls,	near	automata.	But	in	front	of	the	camera,	they	first	become	posed	and	captured	individuals	and	then	memorial,	erotic	remembrances.	They	take	their	place	almost	seamlessly	among	the	vast	archive	of	the	once-but-no-longer-alive	captured	in	photographs,	and	in	death	they	gain	a	convincing	vitality	they	do	not	have	as	objects.	The	double	intuition	of	the	nature	of	dolls	and	photography	is	Bartlett’s	complex	achievement.	(Rexer,	2005,	p.	115)	Bartlett	was	interviewed	about	his	photography	project	by	Yankee	magazine	in	1962.	He	put	his	project	aside	after	that	and	it	was	not	uncovered	until	his	death	some	30	years	later.	Art	historians	speculate	as	to	the	reason	he	stopped	his	work,	but	perhaps	he	was	simply	finished	with	it.	 		57	Bartlett	was	given	the	nod	in	2000	when	the	Metropolitan	Museum	of	Art	purchased	part	of	the	collection.	Since	then,	Bartlett’s	work	has	been	placed	in	major	outsider	art	collections	around	the	world.	(And,	as	Harris	says,	those	who	came	to	scorn	remained	to	praise.)		Harris	generally	accepts	Cardinal’s	description	of	outsider	art,	which	reiterates	Dubuffet’s	vision	to	a	large	extent:	untutored;	imaginative	and	outside	the	normal	concept	of	art;	not	informed	by	or	connected	to	the	mainstream	art	world;	and	outside	the	traditions	of	art	history.	She	stressed	that	commercialism	is	the	one	boundary	that	cannot	be	crossed;	in	other	words,	the	outsider	artist	is	one	who	is	not	interested	in	or	actively	engaged	in	promoting	or	marketing	his	or	her	work,	for	that	is	in	the	domain	of	an	art	representative.	Harris	echoes	the	views	of	many	others	when	she	states	that	it	must	have	an	element	of	compulsion.	In	other	words,	the	artist	has	an	obsession	to	create	art.	She	refers	to	artist	Reverend	Perkins	to	illustrate	her	point.	Perkins	decided	one	day	that	he	wanted	to	paint	a	picture,	and	proceeded	to	paint	one	on	his	door.	He	declared	it	to	be	nice	and	covered	it	with	a	new	painting.	This	process	continued	ad	infinitum	because,	as	Harris	observed,	he	needed	to	do	it.	The	current	state	of	outsider	art	is	in	flux.	Harris	describes	two	new	categories	of	outsider	artists.	First	are	artists	who	are	fully	engaged	in	society	but	have	no	formal	art	training.	By	way	of	example,	artist	Thomashow	is	a	physician	who	teaches	psychiatry	at	Dartmouth	College.	Although	he	is	recognized	in	the	medical	field,	he	has	no	formal	art	training.	As	an	artist,	he	is	somewhat	obsessive	about	the	detail	in	his	pieces,	and	his	work	 		58	has	the	feel	of	outsider	art.	Harris’s	decision	to	exhibit	the	art	of	Thomashow	at	the	Outsider	Art	Fair	received	a	positive	response. The	second	group,	called	‘crossovers,’	refer	to	outsider	artists	who	have	moved	into	the	world	of	mainstream	art.	One	such	artist	is	Joe	Coleman,	who	exhibited	for	six	years	(with	gallery	representation)	at	the	Outsider	Art	Fair.	The	Fair’s	directors	then	barred	him	because,	it	was	announced,	he	briefly	attended	(and	was	expelled	from)	art	school	in	his	youth.	This	was	ostensibly	the	reason	for	his	exclusion;	a	critic,	however,	pointed	out	that	another	exhibiting	artist	was	an	art	professor	(Walker,	2002).	Others	believed	that	Coleman	had	become	too	commercial	(i.e.,	successful	and	self-promoting)	to	be	considered	an	outsider	artist.	When	I	met	Coleman,	I	asked	what	category	he	was	in	now.	He	humorously	replied	that	he	didn’t	know	if	there	was	a	label	for	someone	who	was	‘outside	the	outside.’		Some	say	outsider	art	dealers	wield	all	the	power	because	their	definition	of	outsider	art	prevails;	it	remains	difficult	to	challenge,	as	there	is	no	opportunity	for	debate	(Lippard,	1994).	The	dealers,	on	the	other	hand,	do	not	see	it	that	way.	A	hierarchy	has	been	established	and,	while	dealers	may	establish	the	value	of	artwork,	they	are	not	necessarily	in	control	of	the	entry	gate.	Recently,	the	owners	of	the	Outsider	Art	Fair	decided	to	vet	artwork	that	dealers	intended	to	exhibit	in	2014.	Permission	to	exhibit	each	artist	was	granted	or	denied,	a	practice	that	offended	established	dealers,	as	no	guidelines	were	offered	and	no	reasons	were	given	for	rejection.	Some	organizations	were	denied	the	right	to	exhibit	at	all.	This	particular	effort	to	standardize	(that	is,	institutionalize)	outsider	art	was	a	failure.	The	pre-approval	process	was	abandoned	the	following	year	when	dealers	refused	to	participate.	 		59	Integrating	Multiple	Factors	At	this	point,	my	research	had	not	led	me	to	a	definitive	statement	of	outsider	art.	In	fact,	I	was	uncertain	how	the	genre	would	develop	when	no	single	voice	of	reason	could	be	heard	above	the	others.	Several	groups	were	moving	to	institutionalize	outsider	art	by	setting	out	parameters	based	on	their	own	unarticulated	rules;	other	groups	(the	art	dealers)	took	offense	at	being	told	what	to	think;	and	the	group	on	which	the	others	most	depended	(the	artists),	kept	their	eyes	on	the	task,	not	expressing	any	opinion	other	than	their	desire	to	keep	creating.		Reviewing	the	history	of	outsider	art	helped	me	appreciate	the	cultural	and	social	factors	that	influenced	its	development	in	various	settings.	One	large	task	remained,	however,	and	that	was	to	determine	if	one	cohesive	definition	could	be	crafted	from	its	dominant	descriptors:	the	artist’s	biography,	social	status,	and	distance	from	mainstream	art	as	well	as	aesthetic	features	of	the	work.	I	questioned	whether	outsider	art	had	outlived	its	usefulness,	that	is,	as	a	concept	to	illustrate	Dubuffet’s	treatise	and	a	means	to	underscore	the	tyranny	of	art	institutions.	This	controversial	topic	is	explored	in	the	following	chapter.	 		60	Chapter	5: What’s	In	a	Name?	Introduction	Dubuffet’s	collection	of	work	by	psychiatric	patients	and	isolated	individuals	was	more	than	a	protest;	it	was	a	powerful	illustration	of	his	belief	that	authentic	art	can	only	exist	outside	museums.	Since	then,	the	art	world—or	at	least	one	segment	of	it—has	been	considering	his	thesis.	Taking	on	Dubuffet’s	challenge	of	the	art	establishment	has	not	been	easy.	In	fact,	it	has	led	to	acrimonious	debate	about	two	major	issues:	1. What	is	the	definition	of	outsider	art?	2. Should	we	segregate	outsider	art	from	mainstream	art?		 This	chapter	explores	the	ongoing	dissention	among	art	scholars	about	the	parameters	of	outsider	art	and,	in	particular,	a	discussion	about	abandoning	the	term	outsider	and	simply	refer	to	outsider	art	as	‘art.’	Reconciling	Multiple	Views		 I	suggest	there	are	reasons	why	it	is	difficult	to	reach	consensus	on	the	definition	of	outsider	art.	As	outlined	in	chapter	2,	it	can	be	conceptualized	in	many	ways:	the	artist’s	biography;	stylistic	features	of	the	art;	the	artist’s	distance	from	mainstream	art;	or	the	artist’s	social	status.	To	complicate	matters,	American	and	European	views	are	rooted	in	unique	cultural	histories.	As	referenced	in	chapter	4,	one	scholar	questions	whether	the	category	of	outsider	art	can	realistically	explain	the	work	of	“such	disparate	populations	as	white	mental	patients	in	Switzerland	and	black	self-taught	artists	in	the	USA?	Should	they	be	squished	into	a	single	aesthetic	category?”	(Berger,	1998).	He	concludes	that	we	cannot	 		61	have	one	monolithic	category	as	the	artists	are	not	from	a	homogenous	group	and	are	from	vastly	different	backgrounds	(Berger,	1998).	I	agree.	We	have	travelled	a	long	way	from	Dubuffet’s	treatise	on	the	biases	of	art	institutions.		An	historical	review	of	outsider	art	reveals	the	genre	has	expanded	to	embrace	the	work	of	diverse	artists:	American	folk	artists,	African-American	self-taught	artists	from	the	South,	marginalized	individuals,	people	with	mental	and	intellectual	disabilities,	and	those	who	are	self-taught.	There	are	several	possible	explanations	for	this	expansion.	It	is	possible	that	art	brut	and	its	more	recent	incarnation	of	outsider	art	may	be	an	expression	of	the	zeitgeist	at	critical	points	in	art	history.	Dubuffet’s	radical	and	avant-garde	ideology	reflected	the	principles	of	modernism,	where	authenticity	and	‘art	for	art’s	sake’	were	fundamental	concepts.	Similarly,	in	the	postmodern	age	the	multiple	nuances	and	diverse	styles	in	outsider	art	are	accepted	and	admired.	But	the	zeitgeist	also	reflects	our	social	values.	The	politics	of	social	inclusion	reflect	our	current	recognition	of	and	sympathies	with	different	segments	of	society—the	marginalized	and	the	mentally	challenged—but	it	does	not	fully	account	for	changes	in	the	art	world.	It	raises	this	question:	why	are	some	marginalized	segments	of	society	accepted	into	the	world	of	outsider	art	while	others	are	not?	There	is	no	suggestion,	for	example,	that	artwork	by	new	immigrants	or	other	excluded	groups	be	categorized	as	outsider	art.		When	I	reflect	on	all	the	sub-categories	and	definitions	of	outsider	art,	I	note	that	one	common	feature	is	that	it	references	‘the	other.’	One	could	argue	that	by	continuing	to	push	the	boundaries	of	outsider	art,	we	are	creating	an	ever-expanding	pool	of	people	who	are	not	like	us.	Society’s	elite	still	decides	who	is	in	and	who	is	out.	This	view	may	describe	 		62	the	ousted	artists,	but	it	does	not	really	address	the	heart	of	the	issue:	what	is	outsider	art	and	why	is	the	genre	still	in	flux?		Disintegration	or	Integration	of	Outsider	Art?	Does	outsider	art	still	exist	or	has	it	moved	down	the	path	of	extinction?	(Peiry,	2001).	In	addition	to	the	longstanding	debate	about	the	definition	of	outsider	art,	a	more	recent	debate	questions	the	need	to	keep	separate	categories	of	outsider	art	and	mainstream	art.		Keep	separate	categories	Scholars	like	Thevoz	(1994)	and	Rhodes	(2000)	take	the	position	that	outsider	art	and	mainstream	art	are	two	different	species	and	the	distinction	must	be	maintained.	They	argue	that	we	must	divide	mainstream	art,	which	engages	in	a	complex	social	dialect,	and	outsider	art,	which	is	made	by	artists	who	are	socially	disconnected	and	idiosyncratic	in	style.	They	are	on	“two	separate	paths,	which	both	end	at	two	entirely	distinct	destinations”	(Peiry,	2001,	p.	255).	Taking	a	different	approach,	others	call	for	separation	of	the	species	in	order	to	preserve	the	integrity	of	outsider	art,	claiming	that	the	mainstream	art	world	is	one	of	prostitution.	To	be	admitted	into	contemporary	art	museums	“is	tantamount	to	boasting	of	the	Mafia’s	approval”	(Peiry,	2001,	p.	255).	Recognition	comes	with	social	exploitation	and	commercial	appropriation.		Remove	the	boundary	Some	commercial	art	galleries	have	blurred	the	boundaries	between	mainstream	and	outsider	art	(that	is,	between	academically	trained	artists	and	the	personal	art	of	self-taught	creators).	This	troubles	advocates	of	outsider	art,	who	believe	that	such	a	step	will	 		63	dilute	the	outsider	category.	They	ask	why,	in	order	to	validate	outsider	art,	it	should	have	to	be	measured	against	mainstream	art	(Gomez,	2014a).	Can	we	compare	them	without	making	a	judgment?		Maizels,	the	founder	of	Raw	Vision	magazine,	states:		I	don’t	like	seeing	contemporary	art	alongside	outsider	art,	as	I	think	contemporary	art	devalues	it.	Dubuffet	forbade	any	works	from	the	collection	to	be	shown	next	to	contemporary	art,	as	he	felt	it	would	contaminate	it.	The	situation	could	get	very	blurred,	especially	with	some	contemporary	artists	appropriating	an	outsider-art	aesthetic	into	their	work.	Will	outsider	art	be	able	to	maintain	its	unique	power	if	it	is	constantly	copied	and	mixed	with	contemporary	art?	(Maizels,	as	cited	in	Gomez,	2014a,	n.p.)	Museums,	too,	have	taken	steps	to	exhibit	contemporary	art	and	outsider	art	together.	Its	reception	has	been	mixed	and	it	is	always	controversial.	In	1996,	the	High	Museum	in	Atlanta,	Georgia,	hung	their	collection	of	contemporary	and	outsider	art	in	a	global	fashion,	curating	the	objects	visually	and	conceptually,	not	chronologically,	not	by	genre,	and	not	by	culture.	I	was	told	that	it	was	pronounced	a	failure;	the	public	didn’t	like	it	and	museum	educators	complained	that	it	did	not	fit	their	way	of	teaching.	Things	returned	to	the	norm	after	that,	with	the	outsider	collection	being	‘ghettoized’	with	‘low	art’.	One	wonders	why	this	problem	cannot	be	resolved.	Is	it	a	question	of	changing	public	expectations	or	challenging	museum	educators	to	find	new	ways	of	teaching?		The	most	recent	and	highly	visible	instance	of	exhibiting	contemporary	and	outsider	art	together	was	the	Venice	Biennale	Arte	2013—Il	Palazzo	Enciclopedico	(The	Encyclopedic	Palace).	The	theme	of	the	Biennale	sprung	from	self-taught	Italian-American	artist,	Marino	Auriti’s	1955	patent	application	for	a	drawing	of	his	enormous	encyclopedic	palace,	much	like	a	colossal	cabinet	of	curiosities.	His	vision	was	to	construct	an	imaginary	museum	to	 		64	house	all	worldly	knowledge	and	human	discovery.	The	Biennale	declared	itself	to	be	“about	knowledge—and	more	specifically	about	the	desire	to	see	and	know	everything,	and	the	point	at	which	this	impulse	becomes	defined	by	obsession	and	paranoia”	(Gioni,	2013,	p.	23).	It	was	also	about	the	impossibility	of	knowing	everything	and	our	inevitable	realization	that	we	will	never	achieve	that	end.	It	juxtaposed	artists	and	art	makers	for	a	specific	purpose:	Conceived	of	as	a	temporary	museum,	the	Encyclopedic	Palace	blurs	the	line	between	professional	artists	and	amateurs,	insiders	and	outsiders,	reuniting	artworks	with	other	forms	of	figurative	expression—both	to	release	art	from	the	prison	of	its	supposed	autonomy,	and	to	remind	us	of	its	capacity	to	express	a	vision	of	the	world….	For	art	to	function	as	a	hermeneutical	tool	with	which	to	analyze	and	interpret	our	visual	culture,	art	must	come	off	its	pedestal	and	come	closer	to	other	existential	adventures.	(Gioni,	2013,	p.	23)		The	Biennale	included	the	work	of	18	outsider	artists,	all	of	whom	would	appear	on	a	list	of	‘who’s	who’	in	this	genre.	I	questioned	why	fifteen	of	these	artists	are	deceased,	as	surely	this	would	limit	the	scope	of	the	collection.	I	concluded	that	this	decision	may	have	been	for	practical	reasons:	• The	deceased	artists	were	internationally	recognized	outsider	artists,	thus	suppressing	any	controversy	as	to	their	right	to	be	identified	as	such;	and		• Their	consent	to	participate,	and	on	what	terms,	was	not	needed.8			There	was	a	mixed	reaction	to	the	inclusion	of	outsider	artists	in	Venice.	The	naysayers	felt	that	it	was	a	curatorial	cop-out	because	it	ignored	the	new	talents	who	would																																																								 8	I	note	that	certain	American	artists	(e.g.,	Gregory	Warmack	(aka	Mr.	Imagination))	were	invited	to	exhibit	at	a	previous	Venice	Biennale,	but	that	invitation	was	withdrawn	shortly	before	the	event.	Chicago	interviewees	have	advised	that	no	explanation	was	given.	I	speculate	that	the	dissention	may	have	centred	on	categorizing	Warmack’s	work	as	outsider	or	folk	art.	 		65	become	the	defining	voices	of	their	generation.	Those	in	favour	of	the	curatorial	decision	were	open	to	something	different:	“wonkier,	more	homespun	offerings	by	lesser-known	talents.	Here	is	a	view	of	the	human	imagination	as	an	untameable	beast,	dominated	by	dark	desires	and	impulses,	now	finally	unleashed	and	allowed	to	roam	free”	(Sooke,	2013).	Curator	Gioni	explains	his	interest	in	outsider	art:	More	and	more,	I’m	interested	in	visual	culture,	or	figurative	expression,	rather	than	just	contemporary	art.	This	is	to	expand	the	dialogue	and	to	move	away	from	the	accepted	canon.	It’s	also	because	I	think	one	of	the	most	pressing	questions	[to	interrogate]	is	the	role	of	art	and	artists	in	our	“image	society.”	To	do	that,	you	cannot	just	look	at	contemporary	art.	You	have	to	look	a	little	further,	and	that’s	why	I	included	those	artists.	I	think	they	provide	interesting	examples	of	attitudes	towards	image-making,	image-arrangement,	and	image	consumption	that	are	important	to	look	at	to	understand	how	we	can	engage	with	visual	culture	today.	(Millard,	2013)	Despite	the	decision	to	include	both	outsider	and	mainstream	contemporary	art	in	the	exhibition,	there	was	a	noticeable	difference	between	the	information	provided	about	each	artist.	Take,	for	example	the	information	offered	for	a	mainstream	artist,	like	Neil	Beloufa,	compared	to	that	of	an	outsider	artist,	like	Emma	Kunz,	for	which	there	is	no	description	of	her	personal	style	or	vision:	Beloufa:	Neil	Beloufa	makes	art	that	imagines	a	future	in	which	the	technological	mediation	of	experience	is	a	self-evident	component	of	communication.	In	doing	so,	he	manipulates	language	and	context	to	obviate	the	separation	between	fact	and	fiction….		Kunz:	Born	into	a	family	of	impoverished	weavers,	Emma	Kunz	became	aware	that	she	possessed	paranormal	abilities—telepathy,	extrasensory	perception,	and	healing	powers—when	she	was	just	a	child.	During	her	school	years,	she	developed	an	interest	in	radiesthesia,	a	form	of	divination	that	uses	energy	fields,	and	began	to	draw	extensively	in	her	notebooks.…	(Gioni,	2013,	pp.	382,	399)		 		66	While	of	course	the	deceased	artists	could	not	produce	an	artist’s	statement,	there	was	an	unfortunate	absence	of	commentary	about	their	work.	Throughout	the	history	of	outsider	art,	it	has	always	been	about	the	artist’s	biography	and	how	those	details	qualify	his	or	her	status	in	this	unique	field.	I	reflected	on	this	discrepancy	and	concluded	that	more	could	have	been	done	to	level	the	playing	field,	if	that	were	indeed	the	curator’s	intention.	While	outsider	artworks	were	displayed	with	contemporary	art,	their	presentation	hinted	at	an	unspoken	difference	between	them.	Many	viewers	of	outsider	art	at	the	2013	Venice	Biennale	echoed	the	sentiments	of	Dubuffet	in	declaring	outsider	art	to	be	a	counter-balance	to	mainstream	contemporary	art:	“The	turbo-charged	commercial	art	world	is	making	some	of	us	think	again	about	what	makes	art	fundamentally	interesting.	There	is	a	critical	mass	of	curators	who	want	to	remind	people	that	there	is	something	really	interesting	going	on	that	has	nothing	to	do	with	money”	(Sooke,	2013).		Plus	ça	change,	plus	c’est	la	même	chose.	Is	outsider	art	still	a	viable	genre?	Some	lament	the	passing	of	outsider	art,	believing	it	died	a	natural	death	when	psychotropic	drugs	were	introduced	to	psychiatric	patients	in	the	1950s,	thus	stifling	their	creativity	(Thevoz,	1994).	Others	argue	that	outsider	art	was	a	symptom	of	specific	moments	in	modernism	(Elkins,	2006).	It	grew	out	of	conflict	with	and	rejection	of	a	modern,	newly	industrialized	society.	It	was	simply	an	ideological	phenomenon	that	marked	the	decentering	and	fragmentation	of	20th-century	aesthetics,	society,	and	institutions	(Peiry,	2001).	 		67	A	growing	population	can	be	heard	to	say	that	‘art	is	art,’	and	various	explanations	have	been	offered.	One	group	suggests	that	the	very	existence	of	outsider	art	is	offensive;	they	warn	of	the	danger	and	power	of	labels	and	advocate	against	them.	Further,	defining	art	reflects	society’s	ethics,	morals	and	spiritual	state.	“Outsider	art	is	a	flawed	and	injurious	concept	that	promotes	and	perpetuates	a	dehumanizing	conception	of	art.	We	should	get	rid	of	the	whole	idea	of	outsider	art.	It	does	more	harm	than	good”	(Ames,	1994,	p.	271).	Art	critic	Roberta	Smith	has	proposed	we	drop	the	word	outsider	altogether,	and	just	ask	for	a	“level	of	artistry	and	power”	as	we	would	for	any	kind	of	art	(Elkins,	2006,	p.	78).	It	is	a	futile	effort,	she	says,	to	keep	them	separate	(Smith,	2007).		Bonesteel	(2013)	acknowledges	that	outsider	art	is	changing.	There	is	no	longer	the	purist	attitude	that	outsider	art	must	meet	the	criteria	of	art	brut	that	Dubuffet	defined	in	the	1940s.	He	says,	“Outsider	art	is	dead;	long	live	outsider	art”	(Bonesteel,	2013,	p.	26).	Consider	his	analysis:		• Outsider	art	is	not	dead,	but	it	is	changing.	The	purist	attitude	that	it	must	be	as	Dubuffet	described	art	brut	is	no	longer	true.		• The	art	that	Dubuffet	placed	in	the	neuve	invention	category	is	a	fair	description	of	contemporary	outsider	art	today.	• There	is	no	longer	a	sense	that	the	work	is	(or	ever	was)	acultural.	• The	term	outsider	art	has	been	erroneously	applied	to	many	types	of	folk	or	self-taught	art,	thus	prolonging	the	confusion.	• The	term	outsider	art	was	viewed	as	pejorative	for	two	reasons:	it	discriminated	against	artists,	suggesting	their	work	was	of	lower	value	and	it	was	another	 		68	example	of	those	in	power	having	deemed	them	to	be	outside.	Bonesteel	acknowledges	that	one	who	objects	to	the	label	probably	has	too	much	“art-world	savvy”	to	be	called	that	in	the	first	place.	And,	one	probably	is	not	an	outsider	if	she	or	she	wants	to	be	treated	as	an	insider.	The	more	politically	correct	term	“self-taught”	is	now	used,	but	it	is	too	encompassing	to	be	meaningful.	• The	current	generation	of	students	questions	the	existence	of	separate	categories	of	art.	It	is,	after	all,	the	era	of	post-isms.	• The	category	of	outsider	art	will	no	longer	exist	in	100	years.	By	then,	it	will	have	served	its	purpose—that	is,	recognition	that	something	goes	missing	from	mainstream	art	when	artists	become	too	side-tracked	by	money	or	celebrity	to	adhere	to	the	“spiritual	nature	of	their	practice.”	Opposing	the	‘art	is	art’	controversy,	art	historians	say	that	there	are	significant	factors	that	make	outsider	art	a	separate	and	distinct	genre	from	mainstream	art.	Outsider	art	is	a-historic	and	purely	personal.	‘Real’	artists	break	art	history	traditions	but	outsider	artists	do	not.	Cardinal	notes	that	outsider	artists	cannot	break	traditions	that	they	don’t	know	exist	and	declares	the	position	of	art	historians	as	“blatant	cultural	prejudice,	based	as	they	are	on	a	tautological	definition	of	art	as	art-as-defined-by-culture”	(Cardinal,	1972,	p.	52).	Aside	from	the	issue	of	perceived	unfairness,	Rousseau	sums	it	thus:	art	institutions	argue	that	elevating	the	common	man	to	the	status	of	an	artist	“weakens	art	history,	its	epistemological	structure,	and	its	instances	of	legitimization	(peers,	art	critics,	markets,	collectors,	museums)”	(Rousseau,	2014,	p.	45).	Even	if	we	wanted	to,	how	could	we	 		69	incorporate	outsider	art	into	the	art	world	in	the	face	of	this	incongruity?	Dubuffet	would	have	declared	that	art	is	everyone’s	business,	but	I	appreciate	the	strength	of	the	opposition’s	argument.	The	final	chapter	of	this	thesis	acknowledges	the	diverse	opinions	and	definitions	about	outsider	art	and	my	own	struggle	to	bring	the	disparate	views	together.	While	I	still	question	whether	it	matters	what	outsider	art	is	called,	a	more	fundamental	question	about	the	futility	of	creating	categories	takes	form.		 		70	Chapter	6: Conclusion	Research	Conclusions	I	set	out	to	unravel	a	tangle	of	outsider	art	terminology	by	exploring	the	biases	and	assumptions	we	hold	about	art	and	artists.	I	began	my	research	by	examining	outsider	art	as	an	aesthetic	construct.	By	tracing	its	history,	I	hoped	to	understand	what	it	was,	how	the	definitions	have	evolved	over	time,	and	what	it	is	today.	I	believed	the	various	definitions	must	have	historical,	cultural,	or	social	roots.	Indeed,	that	appeared	to	be	the	case	as	I	delved	into	the	reasons	why	definitions	of	outsider	art	in	Europe	(the	country	of	origin)	and	the	United	States	(the	secondary	location)	look	quite	different.	I	identified	some	primary	factors	at	play:	the	search	for	authenticity	in	art;	pervasive	myths	about	creativity	and	madness;	movements	towards	social	inclusion;	and	movements	away	from	the	marginalizing	effect	of	labels.		In	the	United	States,	a	growing	population	of	art	scholars	and	critics	is	suggesting	that	the	debate	be	settled	by	dropping	the	term	outsider.	In	their	opinion,	art	is	art.	It	would	serve	to	end	the	debate	because	there	would	be	nothing	left	to	debate.	That	is	one	solution.	Another	is	to	concede	that	there	is	a	multiplicity	of	definitions	because	one	will	not	suffice	to	cover	the	wide	and	varied	styles	inherent	in	the	genre.	Perhaps	it	is	better	to	celebrate	the	rich	diversity	of	outsider	art	instead	of	lamenting	the	lack	of	consensus.	Scholars	have	queried	whether	it	is	possible	to	reach	agreement	on	a	single,	coherent	definition	(Berger,	1998).	I	struggled	with	the	same	issue.	Having	explored	the	complexities	of	outsider	art	from	many	angles,	I	was	no	closer	to	articulating	one	comprehensive	definition	of	outsider	art.		 		71	I	came	to	understand	that	these	varying	perspectives	are	just	that—points	of	view	and	opinions	that	interpret	the	world	of	outsider	art.	Whether	we	celebrate	diversity	or	seek	a	common	understanding	of	outsider	art,	discourse	is	imperative.	“It	provides	an	opportunity	to	reinforce	power;	it	also	undermines	and	exposes	it,	renders	it	fragile	and	makes	it	impossible	to	thwart	it.	It	is	a	starting	point	for	a	new	strategy”	(Foucault,	1998,	pp.	100–101).	My	research	led	me	to	a	better	understanding	of	how	outsider	art	came	into	being,	but	brought	me	no	closer	to	a	working	definition	of	outsider	art.	I	reconsidered	Dubuffet’s	original	statement,	before	so	many	voices	joined	the	debate:		[Art	brut	is]….works	produced	by	persons	unscathed	by	artistic	culture,	where	mimicry	plays	little	or	no	part	(contrary	to	the	activities	of	intellectuals).	These	artists	derive	everything	-	subjects,	choice	of	materials,	means	of	transposition,	rhythms,	styles	of	writing,	etc.	-	from	their	own	depths,	and	not	from	the	conventions	of	classical	or	fashionable	art.	We	are	witness	here	to	a	completely	pure	artistic	operation,	raw,	brut,	and	entirely	reinvented	in	all	of	its	phases	solely	by	means	of	the	artists’	own	impulses.	It	is	thus	an	art	which	manifests	an	unparalleled	inventiveness,	unlike	cultural	art,	with	its	chameleon-and	monkey-like	aspects.	(Jean	Dubuffet,	as	cited	in	Berst,	n.d.-b,	n.p.)		Given	the	multitude	of	perspectives	that	have	been	offered	about	outsider	art	since	Dubuffet	introduced	his	thesis,	I	do	not	think	it	is	possible	to	provide	a	statement	of	outsider	art;	it	means	different	things	to	different	people.	However,	aside	from	Dubuffet’s	suggestion	that	a	person	could	be	acultural	(which	he	subsequently	retracted),9	I	suggest	that	several	items	in	his	definition	stand	without	controversy:	the	artist	is	working	outside	the	fine	art	system	and	invents	his	or	her	own	style,	techniques,	and	choice	of	materials.																																																							9	Dubuffet	conceded	that	idea	to	a	utopian	vision	(Berst,	n.d.-b).	He	revised	his	vision	from	the	acultural	outsider	to	the	asocial	outsider	(Dubuffet,	1988),	and	the	focus	shifted	to	artists	who	did	not	comply	with	social	norms.			 		72	The	artist	is	not	knowledgeable	about	art	history	or	art	institutions.	Consequently,	there	is	no	attempt	to	copy	or	imitate	mainstream	artwork	or	enter	into	the	mainstream	art	world.		 In	offering	my	own	conclusions	about	outsider	art,	I	prefer	to	set	aside	the	dissention	that	ensued	after	Cardinal	introduced	the	term	outsider	art	in	1972,	for	that	shifted	focus	away	from	the	nature	of	the	art	to	one	of	semantics.	It	is	unfortunate	that	term	became	(and	still	is)	so	contentious,	but	it	initiated	necessary	discussions	about	class	issues	and	marginalization	and	opened	our	eyes	to	new	ways	to	think	about	art.	As	for	its	meaning,	I	concur	with	Danto	(1998)	who	holds	that	it	refers	to	‘outside	the	art	world’.	While	my	views	may	not	accord	with	scholars	who	have	engaged	in	the	debate	before	me,	their	treatises	have	given	me	much	to	consider.	Most	importantly,	by	revealing	social	and	cultural	biases	that	inform	certain	interpretations	of	outsider	art,	I	have	had	to	acknowledge	some	of	my	own	habitual	beliefs.	It	gives	me	reason	to	proceed	cautiously	and	to	articulate	a	few	issues	I	grappled	with.		First,	I	was	forced	to	consider	the	meaning	and	definition	of	art	itself.	I	was	introduced	to	outsider	art	through	art	books	and	art	exhibits	and	I	never	questioned	its	validity	as	an	art	form.	But	Prinzhorn,	himself	an	art	historian,	referred	to	his	patient’s	output	as	image	making	(bildnerei),	not	art.	I	paused	to	reflect	on	his	point	of	view.	The	impetus	for	assembling	his	collection	was	the	relationship	between	creativity	and	mental	illness.	Likely	intended	for	a	medical	audience,	it	was	the	attention	brought	to	it	by	artists	that	raised	it	to	the	status	of	art,	and	I	understand	their	reasons	for	doing	so.	It	was	more	than	a	medical	curiosity;	it	answered	their	quest	for	authenticity.		 		73	Second,	learning	about	the	therapeutic	nature	of	art	production	gave	me	reason	to	reconsider	my	position	again.	If	the	artists	did	not	think	themselves	to	be	creating	art,	why	should	I?	Was	I	persuaded	by	those	who	declared	it	to	be	art?	But	after	months	of	considering	academic	perspectives,	it	has	not	lost	its	power	over	me.	Beveridge	(2001)	warns	that	the	work	may	cause	a	‘disquieting	feeling	of	strangeness’,	but	it	is	an	absorbing	and	beautiful	strangeness	to	me.	It	doesn’t	matter	what	it	is	called.	The	meaning	and	definition	of	art	is	far	beyond	the	scope	of	this	thesis	and	I	am	unable	to	address	the	concerns	of	those	who	question	the	acceptance	of	outsider	art	as	art.	Perhaps	it	is	appropriate	to	draw	attention	to	the	revolution	between	folk	art	and	mainstream	art	in	19th	century	Europe.	It	required	a	radical	shift	in	perception	to	accept	the	virtues	of	folk	art	(Danto,	1988)	and	I	suggest	that	the	art	world	is	now	undergoing	a	similar	transition	with	respect	to	outsider	art.	Although	it	is	beyond	the	scope	of	my	studies	to	put	forward	a	definition	of	art,	I	accept	its	common	definition	as	works	produced	intentionally	by	human	creative	skill	and	use	of	the	imagination	(Oxford	Dictionary	Online,	n.d.,	n.p.).	And	I	accept	that	outsider	art	is	art.			 As	my	historical	review	and	research	concludes,	I	am	still	not	able	to	offer	a	definitive	statement	as	to	what	outsider	art	is.	What	is	lacking	in	these	definitions,	I	realized,	is	that	they	are	all	just	definitions.	They	are	created	by	people	who	hold	particular	views	about	the	art	world	and	the	world	in	general.	In	other	words,	every	definition	reflects	the	biases	of	the	speaker	who	applies	her	own	logic	to	the	classification	system.	It	is	further	complicated	by	the	fact	that	the	debate	spans	two	continents,	each	adding	their	own	aesthetic,	social,	and	political	histories	to	the	mix.	To	explore	outsider	art	in	other	countries	 		74	on	other	continents	would	undoubtedly	confuse	the	matter	further.	Yet,	however	fractured	the	discussion	is,	it	must	continue.	Dialogue	inevitably	evolves	through	a	complex	set	of	diffuse	relationships,	not	according	to	unarticulated,	common	world	views;	dissention	is	an	essential	part	of	the	process	(Foucault,	1988).		 While	absorbed	in	debate	about	definitions,	art	scholars	(and	I)	may	have	lost	sight	of	a	more	fundamental	issue:	that	the	process	of	creating	categories	is	itself	a	questionable	action.	Foucault	cautions	that	few	things	have	an	inherent	order;	rather,	we	impose	order	(and	labels)	on	things	in	arbitrary	ways.	He	illustrates	his	point	with	a	description	of	aphasiacs	asked	to	order	coloured	skeins	of	wool	on	a	table.	Unable	to	articulate	a	stable	relationship	between	categories,	they	may	place	light-coloured	wool	in	one	corner,	red	wool	in	another	corner,	soft	wool	somewhere	else,	and	those	wound	into	a	ball	in	another.	These	groupings	ultimately	dissolve	because	the	characteristics	that	sustain	them	are	too	wide	to	be	stable.	The	sorting	process	can	continue	to	infinity,	“creating	groups	then	dispersing	them	again,	heaping	up	diverse	similarities,	destroying	those	that	seem	clearest,	splitting	up	things	that	are	identical,	superimposing	different	criteria,	frenziedly	beginning	all	over	again,	becoming	more	and	more	disturbed,	and	teetering	finally	on	the	brink	of	anxiety”	(Foucault,	1988,	p.	111).		One	can	draw	a	parallel	between	Foucault’s	aphasiacs	and	those	who	offer	definitive	statements	of	outsider	art.	It	is	simply	not	possible	to	maintain	stable	relationships	between	the	articulated	categories	of	outsider	art	put	forward	in	this	thesis.	They	overlap,	contract,	expand,	and	contradict	each	other.	There	is	no	inherent	order	in	outsider	art	because	the	definitions	spring	from	the	intangibles	of	conjecture,	beliefs,	and	ideology.		 		75	Foucault	asks	us	to	consider	why	one	system	of	organization	should	prevail.	He	cautions	that	we	must	question	the	existing	divisions	or	groupings	with	which	we	are	already	familiar	and	disconnect	the	unquestioned	continuities	by	which	we	have	organized	the	subject	we	wish	to	analyze	(Foucault,	1988).	Once	the	forms	of	continuity	are	suspended,	he	says,	the	entire	field	is	set	free.		All	art	(including	outsider	art),	in	its	‘neutral	state’	is	just	that:	a	random	collection	of	objects	on	which	we	imposed	labels.	So,	perhaps	the	more	fundamental	question	is	not	what	outsider	art	is	today,	or	what	forces	led	to	certain	definitions,	but	why	it	exists	in	the	first	place.	Who	is	formulating	the	questions	about	outsider	art	and	what	purpose	do	they	serve?	To	answer	that	question,	it	is	imperative	to	examine	the	forces	at	play	in	the	art	world	(Foucault,	1988;	Nochlin,	1988).	Art	is	not	a	free,	autonomous	activity	of	an	individual	influenced	by	social	forces,	but	rather,	is	part	of	a	pre-existing	social	structure.	Nochlin	(1988,	p.	158)	describes	it	thus:	The	total	situation	of	art	making,	both	in	terms	of	the	development	of	the	art	maker	and	in	the	nature	and	quality	of	the	work	of	art	itself,	occur	in	a	social	situation,	are	integral	elements	of	this	social	structure,	and	are	mediated	and	determined	by	specific	definable	social	institutions,	be	they	art	academies,	systems	of	patronage,	mythologies	of	the	divine	creator,	artist	as	he-man	or	social	outcast.		I	considered	the	outcome	if	I	threw	out	all	definitions	of	outsider	art,	not	with	an	idea	to	start	all	over	again	or	craft	my	own	definition,	but	with	a	view	to	‘set	it	free’	and	view	outsider	art	as	a	neutral	object.	I	returned	to	Dubuffet’s	original	discourse	on	art	brut	and	queried	this:	What	if	Dubuffet’s	discourse	is	based	on	a	false	proposition?	He	imposed	his	rebellious,	non-conformist	views	about	art	onto	individuals	who	had	no	voice	and,	in	many	cases,	did	not	consider	they	were	creating	art.	Instead	of	giving	a	voice	to	people	 		76	outside	of	culture,	he	projected	his	own	ideas	on	them.	It	is	possible	that	he	equated	artistic	non-conformity	with	social	marginality	and	cultural	exclusion,	and	gave	the	artists	a	sense	of	intentionality	and	purpose	that	they	did	not	have.	If	that	were	so,	his	discourse	is	a	theoretical	fiction.	Further,	if	we	consider	art	brut	as	a	theoretical	fiction,	we	can	avoid	having	to	reduce	it	to	the	level	of	a	definition.	Instead,	it	challenges	us	to	consider	the	relationship	between	art	and	anthropology	(Delavaux,	as	cited	in	Berst,	n.d.-b).	Outsider	art	is	nothing	new;	it	has	always	existed.	It	is	only	the	label	that	was	invented	and	applied	to	a	collection	of	art	assembled	decades	ago.	Cardinal	unintentionally	opened	the	door	to	new	interpretations	of	art	brut	and	the	possible	meanings	of	that	label	seemed	to	take	priority	over	the	art	itself.	That	may	not	have	been	a	bad	thing;	Dubuffet	asked	us	to	consider	other	ways	of	understanding	art,	in	all	its	forms,	and	we	have	responded	to	that	proposition	with	not	one,	but	many	theories.	Outsider	art	is	a	social	construct	that	cannot	be	reduced	to	definitions	about	the	nature	of	the	art	or	the	characteristics	of	the	artists.	It	is	an	idea,	a	concept,	a	model	for	reflecting	on	the	nature	and	essence	of	art.	Educational	Opportunities	Much	can	be	learned	from	studying	outsider	art	in	the	classroom.	First,	from	an	art	history	perspective,	it	illustrates	the	modernist	views	of	Dubuffet	who	challenged	us	to	re-evaluate	our	concept	of	art.	That	enquiry	is	still	relevant	as	we	reflect	on	contemporary	art	practices	today.	And,	as	a	unique	art	form,	outsider	art	speaks	to	the	need	for	self-expression	and	how	others	have	responded	to	that	imperative.	Exploring	that	aspect	of	outsider	art	offers	students	many	opportunities	for	personal	expression	in	the	art	room.	 		77	Second,	dialogue	about	outsider	art	raises	important	issues	of	social	marginalization	and	factors	that	contribute	to	its	continuation.	That,	in	itself,	raises	questions	of	power	and	control,	both	inside	the	artworld	and	in	society	at	large.		I	had	an	opportunity	to	observe	the	Teacher	Fellowship	Program	during	my	internship	at	Intuit	in	Chicago.	The	goal	of	that	program	is	to	introduce	self-taught	and	outsider	art	into	the	classroom	and	to	educate	elementary	and	secondary	level	students	about	the	connection	between	outsider	art	and	the	inherent	issues	of	social	justice,	cultural	biases,	and	historical	traditions.	Teachers	are	coached	to	develop	curricula	based	on	the	characteristics	of	self-taught	art.	In	the	art	room,	teachers	are	able	to	help	students	translate	their	personal	visions	into	art,	relying	on	their	own	creative	instincts	and	using	non-traditional	materials.	And,	in	social	studies	curricula,	the	inextricable	link	between	outsider	art	and	larger	social	issues	can	be	explored.		While	it	may	not	be	feasible	to	launch	such	an	ambitious	educational	program	in	all	schools	in	the	United	States	and	Canada,	it	is	an	interesting	model	for	introducing	social	issues	into	curricula	through	art	education.	I	believe	it	is	possible	to	bring	individual	lessons	about	outsider	art	into	the	classroom	simply	and	efficiently;	Intuit	provides	free	resource	materials	and	prepared	curricula	on	its	website.	The	offerings	are	wide-ranging,	and	include	such	topics	as	the	healing	effect	of	personal	treasures	to	the	impact	of	outsider	art	on	the	artists	and	those	who	encounter	their	work	(Intuit,	n.d.-b,	n.p.).	Outside	the	classroom,	I	hope	this	thesis	promotes	fruitful	debate	within	the	outsider	art	community.	Although	much	energy	has	been	focused	on	rationalizing	outsider	art	categories,	it	is	time	to	reflect	on	the	conceptual	issues	raised	in	this	thesis.	While	some	 		78	issues	have	been	canvassed	in	scholarly	publications,	I	do	not	believe	they	are	widely	discussed.	The	trend	to	‘institutionalize’	outsider	art	should	not	continue	without	sober	reflection	on	that	very	act	itself.	The	time	is	ripe	to	consider	both	the	history	and	future	of	outsider	art	in	a	broader	social	context.	Topics	for	Further	Study	What	is	outsider	art?	That	is	a	question	I	have	been	asked	many	times	over	the	course	of	my	research.	It	is	a	difficult	question	to	answer,	mainly	because	I	do	not	know	where	to	begin	my	explanation:	Is	it	with	Dubuffet’s	anti-cultural	manifesto,	an	interesting	story	about	my	favourite	outsider	artist,	or	a	discussion	about	the	forces	at	play	in	determining	an	artist’s	status	in	the	art	world?	Perhaps	it	is	best	to	answer	with	another	question:	What	is	art	(in	its	broadest	sense)?	Without	soliciting	that	person’s	own	views	on	this	complex	question,	it	becomes	very	difficult,	indeed,	to	begin	the	conversation.	To	engage	with	art—especially	outsider	art—does	not	necessarily	begin	or	end	with	aesthetic	considerations;	it	demands	the	viewer	to	examine	his	own	biases,	prejudices	and	myths	about	the	relationship	between	personal	expression	and	something	she	calls	art.	Dwelling	on	the	definition	of	outsider	is	a	productive	exercise	only	to	the	extent	that	it	raises	critical	issues	in	art	and	practice,	such	as	the	role	of	art	institutions,	the	role	of	an	artist,	and	so	on.	The	inspiration	for	this	thesis	was	to	better	understand	the	nuances	of	outsider	art	by	examining	the	social	forces	that	led	to	a	plethora	of	definitions.	I	began	to	realize	my	own	limitations	when	I	explored	the	parameters	of	outsider	art	in	the	United	States.	To	be	familiar	with	a	country’s	social	and	cultural	history	is	a	far	cry	from	living	it	and	I	found	myself	questioning	my	interpretation	of	American	class	and	race	issues.	And	again	in	 		79	Europe,	I	may	never	fully	understand	the	most	pertinent	issues	of	social	inclusion	and	mental	illness;	they	are	rooted	in	countless	years	of	cultural	history	that	is	foreign	to	me.	I	am	humbled	to	acknowledge	my	myopic	vision.	I	can	only,	at	best,	offer	my	personal	views	on	these	issues	from	a	uniquely	Western	Canadian	perspective.		To	open	a	dialogue	about	outsider	art	in	Canada	is	a	daunting	task,	as	so	little	has	been	discussed	to	date.	My	initial	research	suggests	that	outsider	art	certainly	exists	in	Canada,	but	it	has	not	yet	reached	the	level	of	a	definition.	That	may	be	a	good	thing,	as	it	affords	a	rare	opportunity	to	start	fresh.	My	first	impression	is	that	outsider	art	may	hold	different	meanings	across	the	country.	Having	strong	cultural	ties	to	France,	Quebec	may	align	itself	with	the	European	outsider	art	community.	My	early	foray	into	outsider	art	in	British	Columbia	indicates	that	it	may	be	interwoven	with	issues	of	social	justice.	Overall,	I	have	concluded	that	evolution	of	outsider	art	definitions	is	inextricably	linked	to	national	and	local	culture.	Failure	to	recognize	the	underlying	social,	historical	and	cultural	factors	has	led	to	some	discord	in	the	outsider	art	community.	Canada,	of	course,	has	its	own	unique	history	and	I	can	only	speculate	how	that	will	shape	our	interpretation	of	outsider	art.		Many	individuals	dwell	in	the	domain	of	outsider	art:	artists,	dealers,	curators,	scholars,	collectors,	and	the	public.	I	am	deeply	troubled	by	our	failure	to	seek	the	views	of	artists,	as	they	have	much	to	teach	us	about	the	process	of	creation.	The	population	of	those	who	create	outsider	art	is	radically	different	from	those	who	manage	and	consume	it.	It	is	the	domain	of	marginalized	individuals	who	traditionally	have	had	no	voice	in	society;	 		80	to	rob	them	of	an	opportunity	to	speak	about	their	own	craft	corroborates	their	invisibility.	I	look	forward	to	hearing	from	these	artists	in	the	future.	Failing	to	acknowledge	the	unique	individuals	who	create	outsider	art	is	but	one	example	of	inequities	in	the	art	world.	Ethical	practices	are	questionable	at	best	and	shameful	at	worst.	Reports	of	unfair	practices	abound	with	respect	to	financial	compensation	and	contractual	relationships	with	artists	who	may	have	mental	disabilities.	Privacy	and	ownership	rights	raise	legal	issues	that	are	not	always	recognized	(wilfully	or	unwittingly)	by	art	representatives.	Further	scholarship	is	greatly	encouraged	in	this	area	to	bring	exploitative	practices	to	light.			 		81	References	American	Folk	Art	Museum.	(n.d.).	American	Folk	Art	Museum.	Retrieved	May	30,	2015,	from	http://folkartmuseum.org	Ames,	K.	(1994).	Outside	outsider	art.	In	M.	Hall	&	E.	Metcalf,	Jr.	(Eds.),	The	artist	outsider:	Creativity	and	the	boundaries	of	culture	(pp.	253–272).	Washington,	DC:	Smithsonian	Institution	Press.	Becker,	H.	(1982).	Art	worlds.	Berkeley:	University	of	California	Press.	Berger,	M.	(1998).	Critical	fictions:	Race,	“outsiders,”	and	the	construction	of	art	history.	In	Self-taught	artists	of	the	20th	century,	pp.	28–37.	San	Francisco,	CA:	Chronicle	Books.	Berst,	C.	(n.d.-a).	Artists:	Charles	Steffen.	Christian	Berst	Art	brut.	Retrieved	July	6,	2015,	from	http://www.christianberst.com/en/artist/steffen.html	Berst,	C.	(n.d.-b).	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