Web Analytics

News Archive

Alternative Guide to the Universe at Hayward Gallery, London

Paul Laffoley

THE ALTERNATIVE GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE: Mavericks, Visionaries, Outsiders
11 June to 26 August 2013
The Alternative Guide to the Universe will bring together contributions from self-taught artists and architects, fringe physicists and visionary engineers, all of whom offer bracingly unorthodox perspectives on the world we live in.  Eccentric and inspiring, their work ingeniously departs from accepted ways of thinking in order to re-imagine the rules of culture and science. This exhibition will focus on individuals who, for the most part, develop their ideas and art practices outside of official institutions and established disciplines. Forging their own paths of discovery and invention, these individuals explore fictional identities and design imaginary cities; they build healing machines and record the unseen energy flows of our bodies. They speculate on mysteries of time and space; create devices for time travel and communication with other dimensions; and fashion new letter forms designed to liberate the alphabet from the strictures of Western civilization. 
Taken together, their varied and idiosyncratic contributions will conjure a kind of a parallel universe where ingenuity and inventiveness trump common sense and received wisdom. With work by Morton Bartlett, Nek Chand, Emery Blagdon, Eugene von Bruenchenhein, James Carter, Guo Fengyi, Lee Godie, Richard Greaves, Alfred Jensen, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Paul Lafolley, Melvin Way, Jean Perdrizet, Rammellzee, A.G. Rizzoli, William Scott, Marcel Storr, George Widener, Wu Yulu.

George Widener will be giving a talk about his work on Wednesday June 12 at 7.45pm.

Vollis Simpson dies at 94

Vollis Simpson built his first whirligig from the remains of a downed plane to power a washing machine when he was serving in the army during World War II. After he retired in 1986, he erected more than 30 giant whirligigs constructed from machine parts and metal accumulated from his welding and repair business. Haunting sounds accompany the motion of the massive, colourful steel structures, some of them over 40 feet/12 m high, which are covered with thousands of reflectors to make them shine at night. Mounted on the brightly painted whirligigs are moving figures of humans and animals cut from sheet metal: musicians play guitars and banjos, woodsmen saw wood, dogs wag their tails, birds flap their wings, and planes fly through the air as the wind catches the blades. Simpson incorporated all kinds of discarded material into his large-scale creations, including kitchen appliances, ventilators and broken silverware.

Conference and European Annual Assembly

May 24 – 25, 2013
The Prinzhorn Collection is the venue for this year’s meeting of the European Association of Outsider Art. Its symposium Ethical Questions around Outsider Art aims to clarify what constitutes an ethically responsible approach to dealing with works and artists from the outsider art field, with presentations by academics and experts from all over Europe.

International Conference
Ethical Questions about Outsider Art
May 24 – 25, 2013
Prinzhorn Collection, Heidelberg, Germany

With contributions from different perspectives, the symposium aims to clarify what constitutes an ethically responsible approach to dealing with works and artists from the outsider art field. This question is more important than ever due to the present position of outsider art within the art market, but nevertheless until now it hasn’t been addressed in a focused way. Presentations by academics and experts from all over Europe will give an overview of different aspects of the issue and will enable participants to end the symposium by critically discussing the corresponding recommendations of the European Outsider Art Association.

Since the early 1970s Outsider Art has been a growing sector in the art world and the art market. The term, which was originally introduced in 1972 as an English ‘translation’ of the term Art brut, coined by Jean Dubuffet in 1945, embraces artistic works by self-taught individuals which cannot be categorised into any contemporary art movement and which impress with the originality of its form and content. For the most part, outsider art is created by people with intellectual disabilities or psychiatric experience, who often use art and artistic activity as an existential vehicle to compensate for the shortcomings they have undergone.

 Meanwhile, there are not only galleries and private collectors that specialize in Outsider Art, but also specialist auctions, fairs and museums (the Prinzhorn Collection Museum, which opened in 2001, is one of them).

A recent development has been the integration of Outsider Art into collections and Museums of contemporary art, which have been for some time invigorated by works on the borders of professional European art, but which have rarely exhibited them alongside it.

Ethical problems begin when talking about outsider art and its makers, because their alienation from mainstream art practice and artists can often result in negative as well as positive discrimination. Especially questionable is the utilisation of the specific experience of people diagnosed with psychiatric issues, as the content and intended function of their artworks are often closely related to, but should not be reduced to, their exceptional experience.

Additionally, many outsider artists are not able to represent themselves in the art world or on the art market, since they are not familiar with mainstream aesthetic positions or economically motivated thinking. If the artist has no intermediary, the curator, dealer or buyer should act in a responsible way. Occasionally carers or therapists mediate, however today this task is usually carried out by the directors of art workshops, now often called ‘Open Studios’. This term encompasses studios in which lay people with intellectual disabilities and/or psychiatric experience, who are interested in art, are offered basic facilities for artistic creativity. However, the studios can be organized in very different ways.

With people and institutions as mediators, the question may emerge of who actually owns the respective works.

Today, a decision supporting the mediator is much less usual than in earlier times, when psychiatrists unquestioningly claimed the works of their patients for themselves. But there are still situations in which the issue of ownership is not easy to establish, such as in illegally built, spacious environments.

The conference is constituted by the interaction between speakers, panel guests and presenters. We envisage a time slot of an hour for each lecture/panel plus moderation. The presentations should last no longer than 20 minutes; the moderators will not only mediate between the lectures/presenters and the audience, but will also in some cases take on the critical role of cross-referencing, thereby putting the content of the presentations in a wider context. It is therefore important that the moderators are also acknowledged professionals in the issues under discussion. The audience should be seriously considered as a discussion partner as well, so it is important that plenty of time for discussion is available.

The conference language is English; only in one case (di Stefano) will it be necessary to simultaneously translate during the lecture.

The papers will later be presented in a reader. The speakers will have the task of incorporating the results of exchanges with respective moderators and audiences into their contributions.

The conference is deliberately internationally oriented. It is also important to us that central ethical issues around outsider art are discussed in dialogue with experienced and new representatives in the field. The speakers Carine Fol (currently completing her dissertation), Axel Klöss-Fleischmann (who only recently started to teach as a lecturer), Katrin Luchsinger (who has just submitted her PhD thesis) and Viola Luz (who has just published her thesis) are upcoming academics.

Electric Pencil at Lausanne

Electric Pencil at Lausanne

March 15 2013 - June 20 2013

James Edward Deeds
Collection de l'art brut.
Avenue des Bergiers, 1004 Lausanne, Switzerland.

This exhibition is the first European show devoted to this American artist. A native American, at the age of 28 this creator was committed to what was named at the time the State Lunatic Asylum No. 3, located in Nevada (Missouri). There he produced two-hundred eighty-three individually numbered drawings, which he went on to sew together, with the help of a needle, into a personal album. The discovery of the album in question was somewhat roundabout. It was in 1969 when, while moving from one residence to another, James Edward's brother gave it to the moving van workers in exchange for their services.

Considering the token gift to be useless, the movers promptly threw it into the rubbish bin. A young boy passing by took hold of it and held on to it for many years before putting it on the market in 2006, page after page. The current owners of the work brought the full set and, after a five-year search, ended up discovering the identity of its creator.

Raw Vision editor on BBC Radio

Raw Vision editor John Maizels was interviewed on BBC Radio Three about the Japanese outsider art exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in London.

You can hear it at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rfzr3 (go to 15 mins)

Outsider Art from Japan

Outsider Art from Japan

Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan
Wellcome Collection | 28 March-30 June 2013
183 Euston Road, NW1 2BE.

Wellcome Collection’s spring exhibition, 'Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan', will bring together more than 300 works for the first major display of Japanese Outsider Art in the UK. The 46 artists represented in the show are residents and attendees of social welfare institutions across the main island of Honshu, and they present diverse bodies of work including ceramics, textiles, paintings, sculpture and drawings. ‘Souzou’ is a word which has no direct translation in English but a dual meaning in Japanese. It can be written two ways, meaning either creation or imagination. Both allude to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world.

Organised in association with Het Dolhuys, the Museum of Psychiatry in Haarlem (the Netherlands) and the Social Welfare Organisation Aiseikai (Tokyo), the exhibition reflects the growing popularity of and acclaim for Outsider Art – often defined as works made by self-taught artists perceived to be at the margins of society – while questioning assumptions about the category itself. Eschewing a purely biographical approach, the show will be object-led, with a startling array of works offering singular and affecting explorations of culture, memory and creativity.

The exhibition will record both intimately personal and expansive approaches to creating art and the processes of making, through six overlapping sections. ‘Language’ will explore the creative release of visual expression for artists for whom verbal or written communication is challenging or impossible. Works will range from Takanori Herai's diary of hieroglyphics to Toshiko Yamanishi's kaleidoscopic love letters to her mother, which express depth of emotion through movement and colour rather than words. Ryoko Koda’s intricate cityscapes are composed of a single symbol, resembling a fictional character from the Japanese alphabet, while Hiroyuki Komatsu's work recalls word-for-word the dialogue of his favourite TV programmes. ‘Making’ will look at engagement with material, the repeated use of particular and unusual media, and the meditative and therapeutic aspects of creativity. Koichi Fujino’s immersive ink paintings cover every inch of the paper, Yumiko Kawai’s textile landscapes are built up through repeated freehand circular stitching and Shota Katsube’s repurposing of wire ties creates a vast yet diminutive army of action figures: all these pieces are marked by the occupation and passing of time.

Works in ‘Representation' and 'Relationships’ reflect the things and people surrounding the artists, often taking surprising and curious forms. The eerie pastel still lifes of Takashi Shuji and abstract assemblages of Takanari Nitta hold an ethereal, otherworldly quality but are inspired by everyday objects, while Satoshi Nishikawa’s surreal sculptures of fruit are made entirely from dense aggregates of small ceramic rabbits. Takako Shibata’s expansive and repeated portraits freeze her absent mother in time, while Sakiko Kono’s dolls – representing friends and carers in the facility where she resides – grow in size and stature according to the levels of her affection. Dreams and desire figure strongly: there are idealised self-projections in the work of Yoko Kubota and Masao Obata, Nobuji Higa’s highly stylised and sexualised nudes and Marie Suzuki's darkly dystopian drawings exploring female sexuality and gender. Self-expression is framed through physical and emotional environments, but interpreted in richly imaginative and sometimes fantastical forms.

The absorption, reflection and acute observation evident in ‘Culture’ will contest the myth of Outsider Art as being solely reflective of the interior mind. Daisuke Kibushi’s immaculately rendered postwar movie posters, copied from memory, Keisuke Ishino’s origami figurines and Ryosuke Otsuji’s ceramic Okinawan lions all attest to a sharp awareness of the cultural contexts and traditions of Japanese society. The final section, ‘Possibility’, will feature works that seek to comprehend and reorder the surrounding world. Koichiro Miya explores notions of ability, disability and super-ability with statistic-strewn works, Shingo Ikeda’s beautiful notebook infographics calculate the endless possibilities of subway journeys he might make, and Norimitsu Kokubo’s densely sketched cartographies imagine real places through information gleaned online, reframing the world through a keen and creative curiosity. 

Shamita Sharmacharja, Curator at Wellcome Collection, says: "We are delighted to be staging the first substantial exhibition of Japanese Outsider Art in the UK. This is a show that will reward inquisitive minds, with astonishing levels of creativity and resource at play in exhibited pieces. These diverse bodies of work offer unique visions of the world, richly expressed, which we hope will move, surprise and inspire visitors."

A series of documentary films featuring a selection of the exhibiting artists will play at the end of the exhibition.

'Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan' runs from 28 March to 30 June 2013 at Wellcome Collection,

Outsider artists at Venice Biennale

The 55th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale will take place from June 1st to November 24th, 2013 at the Giardini and at the Arsenale (preview: May 29th, 30th and 31st 2013), as well as in various venues the city.

The title chosen by curator Massimiliano Gioni for the 55th International Art Exhibition is: Il Palazzo Enciclopedico / The Encyclopedic Palace. Massimiliano Gioni introduced the choice of theme evoking the artist self-taught Italian-American Marino Auriti that“on November 16, 1955 filed a design with the US Patent office depicting his Palazzo Enciclopedico (The Encyclopedic Palace), an imaginary museum that was meant to house all worldly knowledge, bringing together the greatest discoveries of the human race, from the wheel to the satellite. Auriti’s plan was never carried out, of course, but the dream of universal, all-embracing knowledge crops up throughout history, as one that eccentrics like Auriti share with many other artists, writers, scientists, and prophets who have tried - often in vain - to fashion an image of the world that will capture its infinite variety and richness.”


Artists showing will include:

Marino Auriti
Born in 1891 in Guardiagrele, Italy
Died in 1980 in Kennett Square, USA
Enrico Baj
Born in 1924 in Milan, Italy
Died in 2003 in Vergiate, Italy
Morton Bartlett
Born in 1909 in Chicago, USA
Died in 1992 in Boston, USA

Hans Bellmer
Born in 1902 in Katowice, Poland
Died in 1975 in Paris, France

Graphic Works of Southeast Asia and Melanesia, Hugo A. Bernatzik Collection 1932–1937
Arthur Bispo do Rosário
Born in about 1910 in Japaratuba, Brazil
Died in 1989 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Frédéric Bruly Bouabré
Born in 1923 in Zéprégüé, Ivory Coast

James Castle
Born in 1899 in Garden Valley, USA
Died in 1977 in Boise, USA

George Condo
Born in 1957 in Concord, USA
Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris
Born in 1875 in Royal Leamington Spa, UK
Died in 1947 in Hastings, UK
Born in 1877 in London, UK
Died in 1962 in Srinagar, India
Robert Crumb
Born in 1943 in Philadelphia, USA

Guo Fengyi
Born in 1942 in Xi’an, China
Died in 2010 in Xi’an, China
Haitian Vodou Flags

Carl Gustav Jung
Born in 1875 in Kesswil, Switzerland
Died in 1961 in Küsnacht, Switzerland
Augustin Lesage
Born in 1876 in Saint-Pierre-les-Auchel, France
Died in 1954 in Burbure, France

Achilles G. Rizzoli
Born in 1896 in Marin County, USA
Died in 1981 in San Francisco, USA

Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern
Born in 1892 in Jasnoje, Russia
Died in 1982 in Berlin, Germany

Jimmy Sudduth in London exhibition

Jimmy Sudduth in London exhibition

A rare showing of American folk art in London includes work by Burgess Delaney, Ike Morgan, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mary T Smith, Son Ford Thomas and Mose Tolliver. March 20 - May 24 at Large Glass, 392 Caledonian Road, London N1 1DN

“Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

“Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

“Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection
Dorrance Galleries 
March 3–June 9, 2013

Press Preview: March 1, 2013

This exhibition includes nearly 200 drawings, paintings, and sculptures ranging in date from the 1930s to 2010 by twenty-seven artists who worked well outside of the boundaries of the modern and contemporary art world. Using unconventional materials in innovative ways, “outsider” or “self-taught” artists have drawn upon their life stories and surroundings, as well as popular culture, to create highly personal and intensely compelling objects of rare accomplishment and compelling beauty.

Morton Bartlett on show in London

Morton Bartlett on show in London

Morton Bartlett
Private view: Friday 1st March 2013, 7:30pm
Exhibition: Saturday 2nd March - Saturday 30th March

A solo exhibition of Morton Bartlett’s photographs in an oversize edition of his beautiful intricately-carved life-like plaster dolls made between 1926 - 1963. Along with Henry Darger, Bartlett is one of the most celebrated “Outsider Artists” and the carefully constructed scenarios, the sublime costumes and the dolls themselves fixed mid-action once when sculpted and then once more when photographed remain infinitely enigmatic and evocative.

The Horse Hospital
Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1HX
The Chamber Of Pop Culture
tel +44 (0)20 7833 3644