Monday, February 4, 2013

Jerry Saltz on Outsider Art

I just finished reading an article written by Jerry Saltz on 'outsider' art. it was good, and roughly echoed my sentiments on the subject. I was most moved by a comment made by The Museum of Everything, however.

Here it is in its entirety:

"Mr Saltz, well said. We humbly bow our heads and prepare to march on midtown. Yet within your huggable call to arms, there is more to be uttered.

The Outsider Art Fair has blossomed under Andrew Edlin's spirited leadership. This weekend New Yorkers are drifting through the gallery spaces like never before, wowed by the delicate, private worlds on display.

So is it a blip or a revolution?

Artists who make for themselves, not for us, whose languages are expressed without mind to the market, museum or masses, reveal essential truths about human creativity.

Contemporary art opened our eyes to their unusual forms and formats; yet the Duchampian gatekeepers of art reject those who do not or cannot provide context. That's why the hidden metaphors of invisible makers are rarely given priority.

What you are actually talking about is segregation - no more, no less.

Why is Bill Traylor, one of the first African-American artists, not in institutions for historical American art? Why is Henry Darger, the grandaddy of post-modern fantasy, not in Tate Modern? Why are the assemblages of Judith Scott, the poster-girl for learning-disabled artists, not perceived as major artworks by major institutions?

The problem, as you rightly finger, are the words themselves. Since we first spotted this brilliant, unruly stuff, we've been fencing it in. We call these discoveries brut, naive, visionary, outsiders ... dammit, we even call them primitives.

These are people, just like us, who are complex, just like us, who are black, just like us, who are creative, just like us, who are disabled, just like us, and who are out there, doing their thing, trying to make sense of the world around them.

That is why the work speaks so loudly. It represents us. It is us.

So you got it spot on, Mr Saltz. There are no outsiders. There is no outsider art. We were created, so we must create. These artists reach back to the caves and leap into the cosmos. And their vast, global, secret, alternative history of art has existed long before the word "art" decided what was hot and what was not.

The troops are assembled. The target is in sight. Creativity is a human right, not just for some, but for all. Together we will change the trajectory of art forever.

Vive la révolution, The Museum of Everything


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Contemporary artists