UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Outsider art : forty years out Rainaldi, Linda


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.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada