“Art Brut”, or “outsider art”, consists of works produced by people who for various reasons have not been culturally indoctrinated or socially conditioned. They are all kinds of dwellers on the fringes of society. Working outside fine art “system” (schools, galleries, museums and so on), these people have produced, from the depths of their own personalities and for themselves and no one else, works of outstanding originality in concept, subject and techniques. They are works which owe nothing to tradition or fashion.

A firm distinction should be made between “art brut” and what is known as “naif art”. The naïf or primitive painters remain within the mainstream of painting proper, even if they fail ingenuously to practice its style. However, they accept its subjects, technique (generally oils) and even its values, because they hope for public, if not official recognition. “Art brut” artists, on the other hand, make up their own techniques, often with new means and materials and they create their works for their own use, as a kind of private theatre. They choose subjects which are often enigmatic and they do not care about the good opinion of others, even keeping their work secret. – Michel Thevoz, Curator of the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne

Neuve Invention

Dubuffet realized that there existed many creators whose work was of comparable power and inventiveness to Art Brut, but their greater contact with normal society and the awareness they had of their art works precluded their inclusion within the strict Art Brut category. These creators were often humble workers who created in their spare time, or eccentric and untrained artists trying to make a living from their work – some of whom had dealings with commercial galleries. As an acknowledgement to them he formed his “Annex Collection”; in 1982 this became the “Neuve Invention” section of the Collection de l’Art Brut.

Art Brut

Jean Dubuffet’s original 1945 term for the works that he collected and revered; later adopted by the Collection de l’Art Brut at Lausanne. Art Brut means ‘Raw Art’. Raw because it is ‘uncooked’ or ‘unadulterated’ by culture. Raw because it is creation in its most direct and uninhibited form. Not only were the works unique and original but their creators were seen to exist outside established culture and society. The purest of Art Brut creators would not consider themselves artists, nor would they even feel that they were producing art at all.

Art Brut is visual creation at its purest – a spontaneous psychic flow from brain to paper. No works of Art Brut are allowed to be exhibited away from the Collection at Lausanne. Equally, the name ‘Art Brut’ is not permitted to be used except as a description of the works in the Collection. Similarly, the Collection de l’Art Brut insists that it alone can officially designate any newly discovered works as Art Brut.