Elougy to Outsider Art, I:

English version of “Elogio al Arte Outsider I” (https://giovannavolpe.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/elogio-al-arte-outsider-i/)

167 At Jennie Richee, Henry Darger. 1930-1972
167 At Jennie Richee, Henry Darger. 1930-1972

An anonymous stated that he fucked off in the intellectual bullshit of the Barcelona’s Museum of Contemporary Art, ​​making a graffiti in its 2012-2013 wall program. I took a picture of it. Days after the graffiti was gone, it was been erased, but then the wall began to be filled with tags. When the season ended the program was taken off, and since then, there haven’t returned to hang anything on it. Now, that picture I took tops my blog and its sentence reveals me as a maximum.

Fuck off your intellectual bullshit

Against the dehumanized appearance of nowadays art, so self-enclosed, managed as a product within capitalist culture and re-built as a sacred institution almost exclusive, to find today a different alternative is a difficult task, but not impossible; although any alternative will sin, paradoxically, of “systematic” or “institutionalized”, as it is subjected to a judgement. For example, Banksy, which arose from the artistic periphery, now couldn’t survive without that artistic central system he criticizes so much.

It is not enough to be different to stand apart from the official art. It is not enough to be a rebel. You must be anyone to be completely excluded, marginalized, to be none in an entire culture. This no means going against, but to be in the contrary, to be the opposite of what civilization call “artist”, it is actually to be located outside the limits of what we know as art in capital letters.

Towards the middle of last century there was an artist who said that true art is outside the limits of what “civilized” western culture has built as “Art”. That artist is Jean Dubuffet, a “rebel” who did the creative work of marginalized individuals an alternative to ordinary artistic movement. Facing the “Art” category Dubuffet located “Art Brut”, (in English “Outsider Art).

 Fuck off your intellectual bullshit

Outsider Art is known as the “artistic” activity of individuals located outside the official art trends, such as children, patients and mentally disabled or socially marginal spirit mediums; outsiders of any kind and for different reason. Simply we put in this category all creative-artistic manifestation of the antisocial individuals.

Jean Dubuffet adopts the word “brut” to describe this type of work for its simplistic and natural aesthetic, consequent to the lack of art instruction of their creators. So “brut” would object to the term “culture”, and translated as “outsider” or “marginal”. But also, “brut” means the state of quality of those purest and unadulterated things, like champagne or olive oil. In Dubuffet’s words:

“By this term we mean the works produced by people who have been damaged by artistic culture, where mimicry plays little or no role … These artists derive all subjects, choice of materials, means of transposition, rhythms, writing styles, etc.., from its own depths (…). These artists are witnessing a completely pure artistic operation, raw and totally reinvented in each of its phases through the only means they are the artists own impulses. It is, therefore, an art which manifests an inventive unmatched “.

Jean Dubuffet

Without wanting to be bad sounding, “Fuck off your intellectual bullshit” for the third time.

Then, what could be commendable about creations that have no instruction or with no practical or aesthetic skills by their creators, who are not even considered as artists? First, its appearance and its fragility. Secondly, its private, disinterested and paradoxical essence. In this first part I will praise the appearance of Outsider Art, which inadvertently came into light by the early 20th century.

The marginal’s creative activity arose in the Avantgard movement a great interest. Yes, Expressionism, Dadaism and Surrealism are deeply inspired by the “gross” expression of the marginalized people of that time, in order to justify their own creative proposals. The Expressionists saw in the “art” of children and the mentally ill the vital principle of painting as a spontaneous expression. This principle is based on the pursuit of pure manifestation of the human spirit through artistic creation; only way to combat the stagnation and dehumanization that art was suffering in the retrograde contemporary civilization.

In Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1912), Kandinsky metaphorically uses the idea of ​​”inner sound” to express the formal existence of intrinsic values ​​or “life” in painting, which is “expression of the inner content.” Therefore enhances children’s creativity, opining that “the practical-utility is foreign to the child, looking everything with unaccustomed eyes and he still has the ability to accept unchanged thing as such.” Klee was also a great admirer and supporter of mentally ills and childs”art”.

The Surrealists, meanwhile, proclaimed frivolously, to mimic the same creative states experienced by the internals in psychiatric centres. The works of mentally ill nurtured the ideas of spontaneity and incessant creativity of the movement, which viewed validated its model of “creative subject”: the individual self motor that guides their own artistic impulses. They believed that the true aesthetic quality and authenticity of psychotic expressive works flowed from these subliminal and fertile in the unconscious psyche that escape the established artistic canons and especially of rational control “primary processes”. Their attraction to psychopathology as a pure mental state, fought with the reality of the civilized world, the truly irrational.

By the end of World War II, Jean Dubuffet stands as the great defender of the marginalized art gathering them under the category of Art Brut. After presenting these works in galleries, he finally created the Collection de L’Art Brut in Lausanne in 1975. If it hadn’t been for his interest and his defence, perhaps these works would still be considered as symptomatic without any artistic value.

Currently, despite having established itself as an alternative to the system and official art institution, the “brand” Outsider Art does not enjoy a high circulation. Its public knowledge goes unnoticed and strictly separated from the mainstream of current Art. And here is where it is, in my opinion, one of his most admirable qualities. In their marginalization is its authenticity. It is naturally a unique and exclusive art strange to all those who believe finding “exclusivity” in the common Art; an art which inadvertently owns a lot to those expressions from which it difference and which departs from its limits. So for this and more “fuck off your intellectual bullshit.”

The terms of child behaviour and madness are not offensive … All this should be taken seriously, more seriously than all the art galleries, whether it is in our day to achieve reform.

 Paul Klee, 1912

– Volpe, Giovanna, Arte Outsider: Aproximación a la construcción artística de las manifestaciones creativas al margen del sistema del Arte. Facultad de Humanidades, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, 2013.

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