First published: Summer 2022
Five years after his death, the insightful words of Laurent Danchin – champion of outsider art, curator, and author of many books – still resonate. Here, one of his last texts reveals his journey with outsider art, much of it in the company of Raw Vision.
In September 2006, I finally retired from my job as a Language and Literature teacher in a high school in a tough Paris neighbourhood, where I believe I left my mark. Everything that I had done in the field of art brut before then had been achieved in my spare time. My passion for visual arts began with classical and modern art, which I saw in churches and museums as a child. In my youth, I did a lot of drawing and painting myself. I was one of a kind in a family of scientists and they would think of me as the family’s artist. I first encountered the world of outsider art in 1975, when I discovered Roger Chomeaux’s (Chomo) Village of Preludian Art in Achèresla- Fôret, near Paris. I was taken there by my friend the artist Jean de Maximy. It is 30 minutes away from my home and, coincidentally, a similar distance from Héricy, where Antonin Artaud’s psychiatrist, Gaston Ferdière – an avid collector of folk art – had retired. Later on, I published his archives and we became close friends.
Danchin in his Paris office, 2013, photo: Hany Tamba
Nowadays, Chomo’s kingdom would be described as art singulier but back then we said “marginal art” and “underground culture” to designate everything that was outside of the establishment and the mainstream. We were living on the hippie slope of the counter-cultural movement, the artists’ slope.
Laurent Danchin Spirit Painting, Brian Dowdall, 2017
The other was revolutionary leftism, expressed in France through anti-Stalinist dissident communists. In this search for a new way of living – marked by folk music, rock ’n’ roll and Californian culture – Chomo’s village seemed like a sketch of an ideal community or an attempt at a parallel way of life that film-maker Norihiro Nishimatsu celebrated in his 1983 film, In search of the Ideal Community.
This is an article extract; read the full article in Raw Vision #111