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OAF Talk: Art Brut from America?

Saturday, October 20, 2018, 2:00 PM

J.B. Murray, Untitled, ca. 1980s, watercolor, marker, and ink on paper, 56 x 35.5 cm (22 x 14 in.), courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery
Sabato Rodia, Watts Towers, Los Angeles, California, 1921-1954, Photograph: © Jo Farb Hernández 2000
Melvin Edward Nelson, Untitled, 45 x 61 cm (18 x 24 in), pigment on paper, courtesy Cavin-Morris Gallery.


2:00 PM
Drouot Auction House
9 Rue Drouot, Paris



In the United States today, one of the more compelling topics of conversation in the related fields of art brut and outsider art focuses on the question: Can authentic examples of art brut made by Americans be found, and, if so, who has made such art forms, and what are some of their distinctive characteristics?

Curators, collectors, and art dealers have become engaged in this lively discussion. It has provoked a re-examination of Jean Dubuffet's original theorizing about the nature of art brut and prompted the application of his aesthetic criteria for recognizing and appreciating this kind of art in an American context. In fact, some informed observers have extended this dialogue not only with regard to artworks from the United States but also with regard to those from the broader region of the Americas as a whole.

This panel discussion will call attention to the technical innovations and thematic concerns of several representative American creators of art brut. Panelists will identify and describe certain characteristics that are commonly found in these works, even while keeping in mind Dubuffet's fundamental observation that each individual work of art brut or each body of work of this kind represents an artistic phenomenon that is unique unto itself.

Moderator: Edward M. Gómez is an art critic, art historian and graphic designer. The senior editor of the outsider art magazine Raw Vision, he is also a member of the advisory council of the Collection de l’Art Brut, in Lausanne, Switzerland.


Jo Farb Hernández is the director of SPACES (Saving and Preserving Arts and Cultural Environments; This California-based organization documents and advocates for the preservation of art environments. Since 1973, Hernández has done primary field work in this subject area across the United States and Europe. She is a professor in the Department of Art and Art History at San José State University, in California, and the director of SJSU’s galleries.

Randall Morris is an independent scholar, curator, and writer. He is co-owner of Cavin-Morris Gallery, a New York City gallery that has showcased “global art brut” for almost four decades.

Bruno Decharme is a filmmaker and exhibition organizer, as well as the founder of the Collection abcd/Bruno Decharme. Since it began taking shape in the 1970s, the collection, which he oversees in collaboration with the art historian Barbara Safarova, has grown to contain some 5000 objects, representing 350 artists from the mid-19th century until today.

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