So last night the BBC showcased an Imagine programme titled ‘Turning the art world inside out’ with its focus on Outsider Art. If you missed it you can still catch this documentary on BBC iplayer. The description for the programme was as follows:
What do a UFO-obsessed Romanian refugee, a schizophrenic Italian war veteran, and an 80-year-old sex-mad Russian woman have in common? Answer: They are all outsider artists. After the huge success of recent shows in Venice, London and Paris, interest in Outsider Art has never been higher. But what exactly is it? How do we define it? And who are its gurus and leading lights? Alan Yentob explores this captivating, compelling and magical alternative art universe. Why in 2013 is Outsider Art finally being feted by the art establishment, and what took it so long? imagine… embarks on a worldwide journey to meet some visionary creators, and their equally obsessive collectors and enthusiasts.
I think there are negative and positive elements to this programme and I think that a few key figures have been overlooked, none more obvious that Roger Cardinal – the coiner of the term Outsider Art. I have pulled out a few things that I think are quite poignant from the programme and I would be interested to hear what other people thought of the programme – Please do get in touch!
John Maizels likes Outsider Art as he has never seen anything like it before. He says that each Outsider Artist is like an art movement of one and that they invent their own techniques. They have their own disciplines, their own ways of working and their own visions, so that’s why they come up with something completely original.
On the Museum of Everything – Just as revolutionary as the work is the way it is presented. A ramshackle hand-knitted aesthetic. It is playful and unpretentious – a million miles from the intimidating white spaces of most contemporary galleries. I wonder what others think of this, and whether their work shown be shown in white contemporary places.
James Brett – Mainstream museums are using the term Outsider to segregate. The other big thing for me is not to present it as th work of a bunch of crazy people. If I’m really frank … that’s often the assumption and so the other key issue is to say look … who is crazy, who is disabled, who is able, why do we think that if someone has a mental health issue it’s just a cut and dry thing. Everyone has a mental health issue, it’s just a question of degree and once you start to understand that … you take a step back and look at creativity and our reasons for making.
Alan Yentob – The best part of all is that we are invited to step inside.