Outside is Inside

By Jo Phillips

Do you know the term? Outsider art is a relatively new term yet it has been around for over a century in one guise or another. Outsider art now is very much seen as artworks that are created by self-taught or supposedly naïve artists with typically little or no contact or connection to the traditions of the art world as we know it, from art schools to galleries. Sometimes works are only discovered after the death of the creator. Now the Outside Comes Inside with a new exhibition of a body of works at Sotheby’s London on 9 January 2023. Find out more here.

Image on left, The Realness’ – Naoibh McNameeide

The term outsider art first came into common parlance in 1972 as the title of a book by the art critic Roger Cardinal. It is an English equivalent for terms used across this sector like Art Brut, “Raw art” or “Rough art”, Naïve art, Neuve and even Peasant art.

The term is sometimes misapplied as a catch-all marketing label for art created by people who are outside the mainstream “art world” or “art gallery system”, regardless of their circumstances or the content of their work.

The label Brut Art was credited in the 1940s to French artist Jean Dubuffet who spoke of art created outside the boundaries of official culture, far from the ‘industrial machine’ that is the world of modern art today. Dubuffet focused particularly on art by those on the outside of the established scene, alongside works by those in psychiatric hospitals, hermits, and spiritualists.

Award-winning arts charity Outside In, which provides a platform for artists facing significant barriers to the art world, is to show work by 80 artists in a new exhibition ‘Humanity’.

The Visitors by Michael Powell

Opening at Sotheby’s London in January 2023 before touring Glasgow and Brighton later in the year it is the charity’s sixth exhibition since it opened in 2006.

It deals specifically with assisting artists facing barriers due to health, disability, social circumstance and isolation. The national call-out for the show attracted a record number of entries by 500 artists. Over half of the works on show are by artists who have never exhibited with Outside In before and many have not previously exhibited at all.

Images of the submitted work will be shown on large screens at each exhibition alongside the 80 selected pieces. Shortlisted work will be judged by artist Bob and Roberta Smith, following in the footsteps of previous judges including Grayson Perry and Cathie Pilkington.

The winning artist will have their own solo exhibition in 2024, and there will be two other prizes of art materials on offer.

Hamlet by Shiro S Parr

Humanity the title of the exhibition has never felt quite so raw and relevant. The challenges posed by us all in our surrounding worlds including environmental change, war and COVID-19 have left many of us to consider what it is to be a human and how to behave.

These works interpret humanity from a wide variety of perspectives, both personal and global, and include paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics, photography, film and performance pieces.

“Sotheby’s is thrilled to be welcoming Outside In back to New Bond Street. The charity provides instrumental support to those artists who are often overlooked and we couldn’t be more excited to provide what we hope will be a great platform to showcase their enormous talent in our galleries.“

Frances Christie, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’s UK & Ireland,

Beam Me Up by Suzie Larke

“The learning and insight into the human condition that this exhibition provides are profound, all the more so for coming from artists not often given centre stage. It illustrates the incredible creativity and wisdom that is on offer if we look beyond the boundaries of convention.”

Outside In’s founder and Director, Marc Steene,

Interest in the art of the mentally ill, along with that of children and the makers of “peasant art”, was first demonstrated by the “Der Blaue Reiter” group of artists that include such luminaries as Wassily Kandinsky, August Macke, Franz Marc, Alexej von Jawlensky, and others. But in this day Outsider Art has thankfully emerged as a successful art marketing category in its own right. Seen more as an expressive powerful set of works, emotive and not tainted, and in many ways, pure. Well its fair to say that the purest emotions are the most human of emotions

‘Humanity’ by Outside In runs at Sotheby’s London from 9–27 January 2023, before touring to Project Ability in Glasgow in the summer of 2023 and Brighton & Hove Museums in the winter 2023

If you enjoyed reading Outsider Inside then why not read Gardens of Simples Here

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