Inside the Outsider Art Fair

It is a general trend throughout history that where there are people, there are people making art. With a world population of approximately seven billion people, that roughly translates to a heck of a lot of art. So it goes without saying that there are countless talented artists who go unnoticed throughout their lives. But the Outsider Art Fair is doing its part to right this wrong, showcasing the work of talents who never went to art school.

From January 27th to January 29th, the Outsider Art Fair offers two days of exciting panels, conversations, film screenings and, of course, artwork in New York City. Founded 20 years ago, the fair was inspired by the countless self-taught artists who create work outside of the cultural and artistic mainstream, and the fair has become one of the world’s best-known venues for unrepresented artists. It’s also gathered support from many people and organizations within the art community, including Scott Ogden, founder of Brooklyn-based Make Skateboards.

“The world of self-taught or outsider artists has been an inspiration for me for a long time” says Ogden. “This year in particular seemed like a great time to introduce a little new blood into the fair. And with that in mind, I’ll be releasing new, limited-edition skateboards featuring authorized reproductions of the art of two of the best-known artists in the field. I’ll also show original works by several artists who are rarely, if ever, represented at the fair.”

For the first time since its founding, an extensive collection of gallery exhibitors will be featured at the fair, including the Collection de l’art Brut of Lausanne, Switzerland, the world’s leading museum specializing in outsider art, and New York’s El Museo del Barrio, which will promote its “Testimonios” exhibition. Other newcomers to the event include Pure Vision Arts, Manhattan’s first art studio and exhibition space for artists with autism and other developmental disabilities, and LAND Gallery, a Brooklyn-based, nonprofit organization presenting the work of artists living with disabilities. In addition, independent scholar and outsider art specialist Valérie Rousseau will host and organize a series of panel discussions covering such topics as the outside art collector’s experience.

“As many of [them] regularly point out, there is one inescapable aspect of the most compelling work made by self-taught artists that never fails to seize their imagination: That is that it is always profoundly, unmistakably, inexplicably moving,” says critic Edward M. Gómez, a specialist in the field of self-taught artists, on what brings so many admirers to the Outsider Art Fair,

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