Your Guide to Outsider Art on the Web: 14 Destinations


After looking at Will’s recent post on A Journey Round My Skull, I felt an urge to explore some of the wonderful Outsider Art resources and galleries that the web has to offer. First let me say that my favorite artist of all time is Henry Darger. When I saw Darger’s work for the first time at an international exhibit in Chicago about ten years ago, it was like looking at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. All the art I’d seen before this point in my life didn’t even come close to the level of awe that I had for Darger’s work.

What is it about Outsider Art that attracts me? I think it has something to do with it’s guilelessness. To simply say it’s “raw” does not quite get at why I love it. There is something apparent in Outsider Art that sets it apart visually from most of the paintings we see in museums. Oftentimes, although not always, vivid colors, obsessive patterns, and childlike drawings appear in Outsider Art. The psyche seems to be on the canvas. It’s also that quality that makes me think I could have created the piece I’m looking at, even though I know, in actuality, I couldn’t.

The Henry Boxer Gallery is a well-known, reputable gallery specializing in European Art Brut masters such as Adolf Wolfli, Edmund Monsiel, Scottie Wilson, Madge Gill and Johann Hauser. Along with Darger, these are some of my favorite artists. Definitely check out the Naive and Self-Taught artists section as well as what Boxer designates as the Outsider Artists section. Beyond that there is a section on Visionary Artists, which is quite interesting.

The flames of my love affair with Outsider Art were fanned by numerous copies of Raw Vision magazine. I can remember holing myself up in the library and reading the many back copies, completely lost in another world. The site offers excerpts from the latest issue with images of artwork as well as an online shop for books and art.

According to their website, Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art “strives to discover, document, maintain, preserve, exhibit, and collect examples of intuitive and outsider art; and to operate a permanent facility in which to pursue such activities.” The center provides highlights of their art collection as well as a fascinating 360 panorama of the Henry Darger Room Collection. In spring 2000, Intuit took possession of the contents of Henry Darger’s living and workspace.

abcd art brut is a French foundation and gallery with international scope. A commonly referenced site on the web, the description page for art brut is a good place to learn about the history and background of Outsider Art. The collections and recent acquisitions pages give extended biographies on each artist.

Cavin-Morris Gallery has a large collection of Outsider Art divided into categories such as Self-Taught Artists, Contemporary Art, Asian Art, Tribal Art, and Studio Ceramics. The gallery also maintains a blog.

I really like the gallery artists at Andrew Edlin. The website is well-designed, making it easy to find each artist’s bio, images, or press articles. In addition, they have some of Darger’s work I hadn’t seen before. The gallery also says about their collection, “While none of these individuals belong to contemporary art’s mainstream, all of them consistently challenge its boundaries using unconventional techniques and materials to reveal radically individual vision.”

Detour Art, dubbed “Self-Taught Art: Discoveries along the Backroads,” is a great resource. In fact, it’s the main site where I found all these others. You’re not going to find many images by each individual artist, but what you will find is an enormous listing of artists with links to where you can find their work.

Adam Baumgold Gallery is an old favorite of mine to browse through. Many of the artists on Escape into Life were discovered through this site. There is a large inventory of contemporary artists, not all of them Outsider. But the emphasis on drawing, comic book art, and emerging artists is easily discernible.

Carl Hammer Gallery calls itself “one of the primary international pioneers discovering, exhibiting, and contributing to the scholarship and connoisseurship of outsider art.” They have a beautiful collection, including a large number of works by Henry Darger. This comes as no surprise because Carl Hammer Gallery is located in Chicago, the city where Darger lived most of his life.

The Anthony Petullo Collection of Self-Taught and Outsider Art is a frequently referenced site for Outsider Art on the web. You’ll find multimedia tours, online exhibitions, a historical timeline linking to articles, and an impressive collection of work “comprised of nearly five hundred pieces, two-thirds of which are European” and “ranging from the early twentieth-century to the present.”

The Ames Gallery has a beautiful website and offers a focused collection of folk art and Outsider Art. The A.G. Rizzoli sketches are a must-see. What I like about the site is the abundance of images for each artist as well as the helpful biographies beside the images.

Luise Ross is a gallery in New York with a simple website divided into an exhibition page and an artists page. Most of the images are large and abundant for each individual artist.

Ricco/Maresca, another New York gallery, has a sophisticated website and a beautiful array of sculpture, textiles, works on paper, and paintings. The gallery also publishes a magazine called Fluence. Many Martin Ramirez works are sold through this gallery.

Barbara Archer Gallery is my current favorite site for looking at Outsider Art, and we will be featuring a number of artists from this gallery on Escape into Life. I like this gallery/site best because of the selection of artists, the large images, and how easy it is to navigate the site. There are also plenty of artists to browse through.

If these haven’t sated your appetite for Outsider Art on the web, here are some more websites to check out:

The Collection of the Moscow Museum of Outsider Art

Zeitgeist Gallery

Lindsay Gallery

Webb Gallery

Art-Collecting.com/outsider