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Henry Darger at Intuit

January 20 – May 29, 2017

In the juxtaposition of Henry Darger’s art and writings, audiences can explore how the artist approached related subjects in different mediums. Surprising to many, Henry Darger created very few works of art that depict specific episodes from his epic novel, Realms of the Unreal.

For example, he made numerous captioned references to a fictional location called “Jennie Richee” in his artwork, but there are only occasional brief mentions of this place in the Realms novel. Nothing significant happened at Jennie Richee in the written story, yet there are dozens of scenes depicting events occurring at Jennie Richee in his art. Therefore, it seems likely that his art was an extension of, and an improvisation on, his writing—more than it was an illustration of it.

Similar examinations of Darger’s writings and artwork have been performed in scholarly essays but never presented in a museum or gallery setting where viewers can see an actual work of art next to a facsimile of a corresponding page of text. In fact, pages from the Realms are almost never exhibited except for the occasional display of a Realmsvolume from the permanent collection of the American Folk Art Museum, so it is a rare opportunity to see Darger’s art and read his words in one and the same viewing.

Also opening at Intuit on January 20 until March 26, Unreal Realms takes the world Henry Darger imagined in In the Realms of the Unreal and provides a view into the otherworldly places created in the artworks of Adolf Wölfli, A. G. Rizzoli, Charles A. A. Dellschau, Ken Grimes and Darger. The nature of these works, which often are described as “visionary,” call attention to their makers’ sensibilities and outlooks.

“The focus of this exhibit is to posit a group of artists, like Henry Darger, whose body of work was a narrative of an alternative reality,” said Jan Petry, who co-curated the exhibit with David Syrek.

756 N Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL 60642


Museum of Sex

until September 16, 2017

Known/Unknown: Private Obsession and Hidden Desire in Outsider Art showcases over 100 rarely seen works by self-taught artistic masters who have worked outside the continuum of art history. The exhibition features photographs, sculptures and paintings which provide provocative and sometimes disturbing insight into the psychological terrain of their creators. Featured artists include: Robert Anderson, Steve Ashby, Morton Bartlett, Gil Batle, Eugene von Bruenchenhein, Henry Darger, Thornton Dial, Aurie Ramirez, Marilena Pelosi, Miroslav Tichý, Edwin Lawson, Johann Korec, Johann Garber and Royal Robertson.

The art in Known/Unknown is a long way from the typical art world. Many of the artists in the exhibit are self-taught, with little formal education, and range from institutionalized mental patients, to intellectually disabled people, to untutored isolates and eccentrics. Their pieces were often created in seemingly unlikely places; ranging from the sanctuary of psychiatric hospitals to private realms hidden within the lonely, impersonal jungles of teeming cities.

Overall, the work is fueled by secrecy and isolation, resulting in imagery that is far from ordinary experiences of sexuality. And since information about the makers and their objects is often fragmentary with many bodies of work discovered after the death of the artist, in many cases there is no way to know if the makers intended the work for public display. Visitors are left to determine for themselves whether they are actually encroaching on the remnants of these unconventional artists’ most private thoughts.

Exhibition highlights include:

  • Erotic sculptural figures by Steve Ashby, who did not begin his life as an artist until after the death of his wife in 1960. Pieces on view include Rocking Bed Cunnilingus Whirligig and Masturbating Man with Hand Under a Woman’s Blouse, both of which give animated reign to Ashby’s sexual fantasies, as well as Woman and Dog, a sculpture of a woman in a compromising position with a dog, which exemplifies the more tongue-in-cheek elements to the sexual acts in Ashby’s work.
  • A collection of Eugene Von Bruenchenhein’s erotic photographs of his wife Marie. The black and white prints are stylistically reminiscent of the 1940s pin-up and convey a loving playfulness between the photographer and his subject that is both titillating and profound.
  • Grainy photographs taken of unsuspecting women by recluse Miroslav Tichý, considered the master of the stolen image in his hometown of Kyjov (Czech Republic). The technical imperfections of the prints are a result of Tichý’s crude construction of his own homemade cameras out of shoeboxes and toilet paper rolls.
  • Also on display is Henry Darger’s watercolor At Sunbeam Creak/At Wickey Lansinia, which is abound with images of little girls, at times subjected to horrible tortures at the hands of male adult oppressors—a theme that is possibly related to the artist’s own childhood traumas growing up in an orphanage, and later an asylum. The piece was among 15,000 pages of text and hundreds of drawings and watercolors discovered by Darger’s landlord shortly before the artist’s death.

233 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Raw Vision at the Outsider Art Fair

January 19–22, 2017

Raw Vision will be presenting the miniature masterpieces of BEN WILSON, London’s famous chewing gum artist whose tiny paintings enliven the sidewalks, and of PRADEEP KUMAR who has found fame in India for his minute matchstick and toothpick carved figures.

See the work and marvel! Only at Raw Vision at the Outsider Art Fair.

Visit Raw Vision at the Outsider Art Fair. Meet with our editor John Maizels and US editor Edward Gomez. Buy books and back copies at bargain prices and see the latest edition.


Outsider Art Fair

Jan 19–22, 2017

The Outsider Art Fair has announced exhibitors for its 25th anniversary edition, which will run from January 19–22 at The Metropolitan Pavilion in New York. The fair will showcase 60 galleries, representing 28 cities from nine countries, with eight first-time exhibitors.

Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011

Japanese Outsider Art

January 20 – March 12, 2017

Nama Āto: Japanese Outsider Art is an exhibition of three Japanese visual artists whose work is being presented in the UK for the first time. Koji Nishioka’s intuitive musical scores related to existing pieces of music but which a pianist may not easily read; Makoto Okawa’s depiction of happiness, sadness and pleasure in his 3D ‘Makoot’ dolls and colourful drawings; Yasuyuki Ueno’s world where preconceived notions of female characters and fashion objects are challenged. All of the artists have learning disabilities, and are supported by Atelier Corners in Osaka Japan, an organisation supporting disabled artists to realise their potential. The exhibition opened at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester in August 2016 and toured to London's Southbank Centre and Tramway in Glasgow as part of Unlimited Festival.

Koji Nishioka’s started creating his ‘music score’ art works when a piano was donated to Atelier Corners, and since then, he has created over 200 of these unique drawings. He copies directly from music scores, meaning all of his drawings are related to existing pieces of music. As Nishioka’s astigmatism worsens in his left eye, the compositions of his musical score drawings move further to the right. More recently, Nishioka has been leaving more white space around the score, creating predominantly in black and white, but occasionally experimenting with colour.

Makoto Okawa worked in both two- and three-dimensions, receiving a lot of attention for his vivid colours and energetic expression. His ‘Makoot’ (interesting doll) works are now his predominant focus since he started creating them in 2005. Most of Okawa’s dolls are creatures born from his imagination, although more recently he has been using his favourite actor – Tetsuya Takeda – as a motif. 

At the same time as working on his 3D pieces, Okawa worked on his 2D pieces. For these, he used pastel crayon paint, marker and coloured pencils, painting into the paper with a good amount of pressure. Okawa passed away in early 2016. 

Yasuyuki Ueno loves pretty and Kawaii (cute) things; for example, his favourite colour is pink and his favourite character is Betty Boop. In his work, Ueno is particular about the gestures of fashion models, their clothing and the colours they wear. He will repeatedly experiment by drawing and re-drawing lines and painting several layers until he is satisfied with the finished product.

The three artists have work in collections worldwide, and have exhibited in numerous places internationally, including Japan, the USA, the Czech Republic and France, but never before in the United Kingdom.

This is a touring exhibition delivered by Outside In, Pallant House Gallery and Atelier Corners. It is supported by Unlimited (delivered by Shape and Artsadmin); celebrating the work of disabled artists, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Arts Council of Wales, British Council, Creative Scotland and Spirit of 2012. There is additional support from the Japan Foundation.

Dates: 20 January - 12 March 2017

Venue: The Attenborough Arts Centre, University of Leicester, Lancaster Road, Leicester LE1 7HA

Information replicated from www.outsidein.org.uk 

Dubuffet Collection at Gugging Museum

January 25 – July 2, 2017

1945 marked the end of the Second World War and the beginning of a second modernism. At this point in time Jean Dubuffet – one of the most imaginative minds of the twentieth century – was tired of established art and went in search of a new concept of art: free, unbiased, anti-intellectual, and raw – it should be “brut”. And Dubuffet would indeed find it in unexpected places: on the street, in prisons, in folk art, and in psychiatric clinics in Europe and abroad. This art would form the foundation of Dubuffet’s notion of Art Brut. Museum gugging presents 169 works from Dubuffet’s illustrious collection, which he assembled between 1945 and 1949. It includes works by famous artists such as Aloïse Corbaz, Adolf Wölfli, Auguste Forestier, and many other recognised – but also anonymous – artists. They are all united in this historical exhibition, which was shown for the first time in autumn 1949 in Paris at Galerie René Drouin under the title “L’Art Brut”. Today these works form the original core of the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, which compiled this showcase on the occasion of their 40th anniversary. "jean dubuffet’s art brut.! the origins of the collection" features 169 works from Dubuffet’s collection, with works by Aloïse Corbaz, Adolf Wölfli, Auguste Forestier and other well-known outsiders. 

Am Campus 2, A-3400, Maria Gugging, AUSTRIA


Lance Rivers

January 12 – March 9, 2017

Lance-scape Architecture, Lance Rivers' first solo exhibition at Creativity Explored sheds light upon his prolific career as an artist living in the Bay Area. The skilled draftsman offers a personal vision of regional bridges, buildings, tunnels, and BART stations imbued with loving attention to detail and an uncanny spatial presence.

Rivers documents the ever-changing physicality of San Francisco and the East Bay on his own terms, leaving the viewer to question whose vision is being built around us. Rivers' work provides a unique perspective of the transitional flux the Bay Area has continuously undergone and continues to grapple with.

3245 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

Sylvia Fragoso

January 7 – February 12, 2017

Born with Down syndrome in 1962, Sylvia Fragoso started making art in her early twenties after joining NIAD, a progressive art studio in Richmond, California. Over the last 30 years she has produced hundreds of clay sculptures: spiritually-inspired monuments that possess a humble beauty and strange power; mysterious clusters with crucifixes atop them that testify to her devout Catholicism, and crumbling towers, some with spiky projections jutting out from their thickly glazed exteriors.

Likewise, her drawings are striking in their originality and conviction, evincing a brilliantly intuitive grasp of color and design. These mesmerizing abstractions and swirling striations – sometimes embedded with religious symbols – pulsate with colour and energy, like mosaics that have burst open into hallucinatory vortices.

Fragoso has exhibited globally at numerous galleries and art fairs, and her work resides in many private collections. The Good Luck Gallery presents the first solo show of her work in Southern California.

945 Chung King Road, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Art brut film seeking funding

Eternity Has No Door of Escape is a film by Arthur Borgnis about the history of art brut, featuring interviews with key figures in the field and rare footage of Hans Prinzhorn, Jean Dubuffet, Aloïse Corbaz and Harald Szeemann.

Borgnis is crowdfunding to raise funds to complete the film. To find out more and to help bring this project to fruition please click here.

Chinese Outsider Art

until June 5

The first exhibition about Chinese Outsider Art in the Netherlands is taking place at the Outsider Art Museum, juxtaposing works by Chinese and Dutch outsider artists. The international exchange is a joint project of The Dolhuys and the Chinese Federation for Disabled People, with artist Guo Haiping as curator for the Chinese works.


Amstel 51, 1018 EJ Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS

Image: Wu Meifei