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Outsider – art

Brute art or art brut is often confused with the so-called art of outsiders. But if art brut is rather “art of the crazy”, then outsider art is a broader concept.
It can be the art of people without special art education, the work of those who find themselves in difficult life situations. The term art – brut was introduced in 1972 by art critic Roger Cardinal. Similar phenomena are marginal art, naive art, visionary or intuitive art, folk art, new fiction.

Perhaps the main difference between the creators – “outsiders” from other artists, is the conditions in which they work. Diseases, loneliness, severe external circumstances, such as war, push artists – “outsiders” to amazing creative impulses. A striking example of outsider art, of course, are the work of Henry Darger.

Henry Darger
Henry’s mother died when he was 4 years old, and a few years later, due to a serious illness, his father was sent to a clinic for life.

In 1908, the sixteen-year-old Darger fled from the shelter. He got a low-paid job in a Catholic hospital in Chicago, where he worked for about 50 years, and only after his death it turned out – Henry Darger had written one book all his life, illustrating it with watercolors and collages from old newspapers.



It is not known if Mr Darger would have been delighted if he had learned that today he is one of the most popular outsider authors of art, because he wrote this book for himself. It is this detachment, so similar to meditation, complete immersion in one’s inner world, independence from the opinions of professional critics that makes art brut so attractive for those who are looking for emancipation and freedom in their work.



Nikifor Krynnitsky
Another well-known artist – an “outsider”, Nikifor Krynnitsky held a lifetime exhibition, where not a few eminent art critics were invited. However, Nikifor himself, a deaf-mute, tongue-tied old man suffering from tuberculosis, did not feel any emotions at all about this.

The exhibition itself was held only thanks to the efforts of professional artist Marian Vlasinsky, whose touching concern for Nikifor became one of the themes of the modern film by Krzysztof Krause “My Nicephorus” (2004). It is interesting to note that the old Nikifor in this film was played by a woman, Christina Feldman, and this was her only main role



The creative heritage of Nikifor Krynnitsky is truly enormous – more than 40 (!) Thousand works. Closed, dirty, mooing, a real “outsider”, Nikifor actually turned out to be an amazing hard worker who could not imagine his existence without drawing.

The work of ordinary people
Nikifor Krynnitsky and Henry Darger are adults who draw with the immediacy of children, and this unites them. But to the art of outsiders “can be attributed the work of quite ordinary people who find themselves in strange, terrible conditions.

For example, the blockade drawings of the girl Wali Tonsk are not only works of art but also a document exposing fascism.



More than 60 drawings reflect the life of the besieged city from the beginning of the Blockade to its complete lifting. Valine drawings are sometimes accompanied by a description of a particular depicted event. “Visit to the bathhouse”, “Arrest of the cannibal”, “Shelling” – these are the topics of her work.




Valentina Tonsk “discovered” her drawings to the world only 60 years after the war, not counting on fame and recognition. But these works certainly became part of an amazing and complex phenomenon – the art of outsiders.



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Petr Shein Shein • March 19, 2017 18:14
People with a difficult fate usually get drunk and disappear into eternity. But some, endowed with talent, leave behind a creative legacy.

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