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Art Brut

Related: modern art - outsider art - wild - primitive


Art Brut is an informal art genre. The term (meaning Raw Art) was coined by French painter Jean Dubuffet for the art of the insane. Dubuffet became fascinated by the paintings of people institutionalized with schizophrenia such as Adolf Wolfli, Heinrich Anton Muller and AloÔse Corbaz.

As the Incorrect Music Hour defines it, "A true "Incorrect" artist must be sincere and lack self-awareness. A severe irony deficiency helps. Any humorous overtones to their work must be unintentional."

A certain overlap and confusion with Folk Art, Naive Art and Outsider Art is common. The distinction between these genres might be described thus:

What they share is the capacity to be patronizingly celebrated as somehow more free and original than the fine art found in galleries and traditions, being free of The Anxiety of Influence. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Brut, Apr 2004

Hans Prinzhorn

In the year after Morgenthalerís book, there appeared another, even more influential publication. This was Bildnerei des Geistekranken by Dr. Hans Prinzhorn (1886-1933). Rather than being based on the work of one artist, this dealt with the work of a broad spectrum. Prinzhorn was a psychiatrist, working at the Heidelberg Psychiatric Clinic. He had, however, previously trained as an art historian, obtaining a doctorate in art history from Vienna University in 1908, before serving as a doctor in the German army during the war, then moving to Heidelberg in 1919.

When he arrived at Heidelberg, he found that the clinic had already formed a small collection of patient art. Prinzhorn began to research this at the instigation of the director of the Institute, Dr. Karl Willmanns. He was also given time and money to search for new material. By the time he left Heidelberg, shortly before the publication of his book, it amounted to more than 5000 pictures and sculptures by around five hundred artists, covering a period from c. 1890 to c. 1920. The book was enormously successful, and made Prinzhorn famous overnight. --Edward Lucie-Smith, http://www.arttomorrow.co.uk/images/Ch%204%20%20-%20Untrained%20Visionaries.doc, accessed Apr 2004

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