Outsider Art + Art Brut

The term ‘Outsider Art’ was originally intended to act as an exact English equivalent to Dubuffet’s term, although Outsider Art has developed to encompass not only Art Brut but also works that the Lausanne Collection would not strictly designate as such (eg. some of the works in the Neuve Invention category). Outsider Art has not had the benefit of the unique protection surrounding Art Brut and the definition has undoubtedly become obscured by chronic mis-use since its introduction in 1972.

Sadly we find today that many use the term in the loosest way, to refer to almost any untrained artist. It is simply not enough to be untrained, clumsy or naive. Outsider Art is virtually synonymous with Art Brut in both spirit and meaning, to that rarity of art produced by those who do not know its name.

Folk Art

A simple and direct term that has become much used – and over-used – especially in North America. Originally pertaining to the indigenous crafts and decorative skills of peasant communities in Europe, the term was later applied to the simply made practical objects of colonial days – a combination of charm and practical craftsmanship. In contemporary terms, Folk Art can cover anything from chain-saw animals to hub-cap buildings. The crossover with Outsider Art is undeniable, but most Folk Art has its own traditions and is often very different from the psychic flow of Art Brut.

Marginal Art, Art Singulier

The works of artists, usually, but not exclusively, self-taught, that are close to Art Brut and Outsider artists, both in appearance and directness of expression. 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.

Visionary Art, Intuitive Art

Both of these are deliberate umbrella terms, used together they can include almost everything of value in the field, including much tribal art and the urban folk art of the third world, as well as most of the works described above. They are safe and honest general terms that avoid the specifics of Outsider Art or Folk Art.

Naïve Art

Often confused with Outsider and Visionary art, this term refers to untrained artists who depict largely realistic scenes, often in minute detail, with people, animals, and other aspects of the observed world, sometimes combined with fantasy images. They often aspire to normal artistic status and are usually very different from the visionaries to be found in the pages of Raw Vision, and may often be seen as quite sophisticated amateurs verging on professionalism.

Visionary Environments

The environments, buildings and sculpture parks built by intuitive artists almost defy definition. They have become known by various terms, Visionary Environments and Contemporary Folk Art Environments being perhaps the most appropriate in current use. Although Outsider Art has been used to describe the environments, some feel the label to be insulting to these particular creators, many of whom are integrated members of their local communities. Another popular term, especially in the US, is Grassroots Art, which can also cover the more humble expressions and constructions of ordinary folk in both town and country.