Henry Darger “Lagorian Rangers Calverian Girl and Boy Scouts”
IT’S ONLY TRICKY TO DEFINE IF YOUR STARTING POINT IS SNOBBERY: Defining Outsider Art In Anticipation Of The Outsider Art Fair
An Outsider Art article. I have mixed feelings about some of the efforts depicted, but a strong sense the elitist media and arts establishment miss the point here.
In this interview there’s lots of preening, power flexing, and mutual ego stroking on display: “I bought the fair…the press couldn’t stop talking about how the work was so great…the significance of blue chip galleries…I think we’re certainly always looking to enhance the stature of outsider artists.”
As if being noticed by pompous players like this equals stature!
It may mean money for artists, which is good, but it reduces the whole enterprise of art to trophy hunting and status symbols, hinging on the approval and acceptance by a self-important few. The interviewed operator pays some lip service to breaking down the insider/outsider art distinctions, but in the end it’s all about servicing collectors. The Art Fair discussed in the sycophantic interview is being treated as a means to provide the establishment stamp of approval to those who lack the credentials elitists usually rely on as a substitute for achievement.
The cultural institutions have destroyed their credibility with decades of appalling mismanagement, hyping ideas that have caused a crisis of relevance in the visual arts. So now, to try and revive the sense of liveliness they have smothered in the arts with their useless theories and biases, they need to reach outside their pedantic formulas, and acknowledge those who are working from true personal need and vision. But to what end? Just to have another product to sell.
The so-called outsiders are being summoned by jaded cosmopolitans desperately trying to associate themselves with something genuine. It’s like they’re trying to buy a soul. The elitists learn nothing from the motivation of these artists, the wisdom that comes with creatively documenting individual insights into life.
Art isn’t just a commodity, it is a view into the spirit of the culture. The art usually pushed by our institutions have spectacularly failed to provide that visionary experience to the general audience.
Co-opting the authenticity generated outside of elitist presumptions doesn’t address the fundamental decay at the heart of their hierarchies.