Outsider Art

Close-up of one of Emery Blagdon's hanging sculptures (2012), wire, found bottles, wire, metallic foil, paint, shells, dimensions variable

Yesterday evening’s nationwide PBS broadcast of Kelly Rush’s new documentary short, Emery Blagdon & His Healing Machine, served as a reminder of just what it is that distinguishes the lives and careers of the most exemplary outsider artists.

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Post image for A Play for the Enigmatic Henry Darger

An independent theater in Chicago is adapting Henry Darger’s life into a play. The effort, currently accepting funds on Indiegogo, aims to draw attention to the life of the prolific outsider artist and creator of the illustrated tale of the “Vivian Girls,” a man whose own story has thus far been relegated to the margins.

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Post image for The Artistic Madness of the American South

The insane, or seemingly insane, have constituted a good chunk of “outsider art” since the term’s inception, so it’s no surprise that When the Stars Begin to Fall: Imagination and the American South, now in the last week of its run at the Studio Museum in Harlem, includes a few of them.

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Post image for Outsider Art Preview: Blurred Categories and Fairs Big and Small

Has the outsider art field become a victim of its own success? If so, it is a peculiar “victim,” and its success must be measured by standards that go beyond the money-obsessed art world’s primary criterion for determining aesthetic value — the price tag that any specific work happens to sport at any given time.

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Post image for Life-size Dolls of the Dead and Disappeared

“I never thought it would turn into this,” 64-year-old Ayano Tsukimi says while surveying her decade-long dedication to making dolls of the dead and disappeared in her nearly abandoned town of Nagoro, Japan.

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Post image for From Outside to Inside on Chicago’s North Side

CHICAGO — Outsider art is an overused, perhaps even misused, term. By a strict definition it refers to someone who makes art outside the official and even unofficial milieu in which artists get training, education, and exhibitions.

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Post image for The Sci-Fi Writer Who Used Photography to Search for Ancient Aliens

In the 1940s, science fiction fans were gripped by tales of an underworld of nefarious beings preying on the humans up above.

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Post image for Smithsonian Brings Self-Taught Art to the Masses with James Castle

Using spit and soot, artist James Castle communicated with the world. Castle, who was deaf, spent his life in Idaho, using art as his main outlet; he never signed, spoke, or wrote in any direct way.

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Post image for When Outsider Art and Christmas Collide

It’s easy to get obsessive around the holidays, what with the frantic shopping and cheerful imbibing and decorations to be placed. But some take it a long step further.

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Post image for A Visit to an Overlooked Folk Art Cave of Crystals

MEMPHIS — Secreted in a cemetery in Memphis is a meditative work of 1930s folk art, a man-made cave created from five tons of quartz crystal and a unique process of turning concrete to wood.

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