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  • Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    Empires - The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance
    A fascinating and highly entertaining look at one of the most important families of the Renaissance era--the Medici.
  • Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)
    Sister Wendy - The Complete Collection (Story of Painting / Grand Tour / Odyssey / Pains of Glass)

    “Sister Wendy Beckett has transformed public appreciation of art through her astonishing knowledge, insight and passion for painting and painters.” This set includes Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, Sister Wendy's Odyssey, and Sister Wendy's Grand Tour. Simultaneously delightful and scholarly--this is a must have for anyone interested in art history.

  • Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    When British stencil artist Banksy traveled to Los Angeles to work, he came across obscure French filmmaker Thierry Guetta and his badly organized collection of videotapes involving the activities of graffiti artists. Inspired, Banksy assembled them with new footage to create this talked-about documentary, and the result is a mind-boggling and odd film (so strange as to be thought a hoax by some) about outsider artists and the definition of art itself.
  • The Impressionists
    The Impressionists
    A dramatization of the Impressionist movement as seen through the eyes of Claude Monet. Highly entertaining and informative.
  • The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    The Impressionists: The Other French Revolution
    A very personal and revealing look at the personalities that created Impressionism.

Entries in Outsider Art (4)


Henry Darger: Work Born of Genius or Mental Illness?

(Henry Darger - Untitled II (At Jennie Richee, they admire the beauty of the tropical nimbus clouds), n.d. Watercolor, pencil and collage on paper (click photo for larger image)American outsider artist and writer Henry Darger (1892-1973) is known for his epic fantasy more than 15,000 pages long and his colorful, often disturbing watercolors and collages. His works were discovered shortly before his death and recognized only posthumously by the wider world. Darger’s illustrations are recognizable by the artist’s lavish palette, the use of the entire page, and complex compositions that often include repetitive figures of young girls. Darger is widely regarded as the paradigmatic outsider artist. His fame rests not only on the quality of his work but also on the late recognition of his secret creative output and his tragic and reclusive life. Darger lost both of his impoverished parents at an early age. An intelligent child, he was first enrolled in a public school, was eventually moved to a Catholic school, and ultimately was institutionalized in the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children. Despite an obvious intelligence, it was determined that "little Henry's heart is not in the right place”.  The Lincoln asylum's practices included forced labor and severe punishments. Eventually, Darger served briefly in the U.S. Army during WWI, and afterwards lived a humble, solitary life. He earned his wages as a janitor. Art critics and scholars continue to debate whether his work was born of genius or of mental illness. 

Darger’s most-astounding production is the epic entitled in full, The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, or In the Realms of the Unreal. The story follows seven girls, the Vivian Girls of the Catholic nation Abbieannia, who attempt to rescue kidnapped children enslaved by the atheistic and villainous Glandelinians. The tale, loosely based on events from the American Civil War, pits heroic children against evil, abusive adults. Darger first wrote the story in longhand and later typed it and added illustrations. He worked on the project for 43 years.

The 300 watercolors he made to accompany his story bring the tale of destruction and heroism to life, often in graphic detail. The paintings, some of which measure up to 12 feet wide, illustrate the children’s vulnerability against their captors. The enslaved children are white, pale, and unclothed and are typically rendered androgynous or with boys’ genitalia. Darger traced and cut figures from comics and children’s books into his work, because, probably because he felt he did not have the skill to draw people without them.


Mobile Unit in Hunt for Russia‚Äôs Best Self-Taught Artists

The Museum of Everything is coming to Russia (click photo for larger image)

“The Museum of Everything (the largest traveling exhibition of outsider art) is running a five-city talent search for outsider art show at Moscow’s Garage Center.”



"Accidental Genius" Highlights Major Gift to Milwaukee Art Museum

August Walla (Austrian, b. 1936), The Absolute Truth (Gericht!), 1990. Acrylic on canvas (double sided), 78 x 63 in. (198.12 x 160.02 cm). The Anthony Petullo Collection. M2012.230a,b. Photo: Larry Sanders.Milwaukee collector Anthony Petullo owns an extraordinary collection of modern self-taught art--much of which is on exhibit at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Self-taught art falls into several categories--including naive art, outsider art (also known as art brut) and sometimes folk art. The article below will give you a peek and some insight into Petullo’s fine collection.

MILWAUKEE, WIS.- Accidental Genius: Art from the Anthony Petullo Collection, an original exhibition of modern self-taught art featuring more than two hundred works opened Friday, February 10, 2012, at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The exhibition includes many of the most important European and American artists in the genre, and celebrates the significant gift of works by Milwaukee collector Anthony Petullo to the Museum. READ MORE...

It should be noted that not all individuals with little or no training are considered naive or outsider artists. Vincent van Gogh, for example, was largely self-taught--but his work is neither naive our outsider art. In addition, some artists who have been professionally trained have aligned themselves with outsider art--as a way of protesting against the powers-that-be of the professional art world.


Christie's New York Recently Announced Americana Week 2010

Rare Double Portrait by Ammi Phillips (1788-1865)From

[T]he lead highlight of the Americana Week sales is an exceedingly rare, full-length double portrait of Theron Simpson Ludington (1850-1922) and His Older Sister Virginia Ludington (1846-1865) by the prominent 19th-century American portrait artist Ammi Phillips (estimate: $300,000-500,000). Unknown among Phillips works until earlier this year, this dynamic, even humorous portrait of two young siblings has been passed down through generations of the Ludington family of Goshen, CT until the present day. Phillips was commissioned sometime around 1852 to paint the family’s members, which included formal portraits of the children’s parents....

Phillips was a naive (self-taught) New England painter--now regarded as one of the most important folk artists of his era. The distinctions between naive art, folk art, and outsider art are often blurred--and the terms are frequently used interchangeably. Naive artists generally refers to painters living in mainstream culture who pursue individualized subjects and themes, such as Henri Rousseau. Folk art typically embodies subjects dealing with a particular culture and/or tells us something about the community or traditions of the artist. Naive painter Grandma Moses is considered a folk artist. Outsider Art refers to works created by individuals living outside or on the fringes of mainstream society--such as homeless people, prisoners, mental patients and the like. One common feature is that all of these forms generally engage artists who have had no formal training--but who pursue their art with the same commitment as professional artists. Although their works were once widely referred to as "primitive" -- and sometimes are still so labeled -- there is a tendency among art historians to avoid that term these days. Some professional (formally trained) artists have chosen to align themselves with the Outsider Art movement--as a way of protesting and challenging what they see as the elitism of the contemporary art world.