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Art Brut-or Raw Art


Distinguishing the branches of contemporary art is quite difficult even if I attempt to do it with the aid of literature to obtain a cleaner definition of Art Brut.


Originally, Art Brut focused on the art of “crazy people” often from any kind of marginal groups: prisoners, recluses and anarchists and expressed spontaneity. These activities express pulsing extremes like visions and delusions and so can pass into hallucination or delirium.

Art Brut is not just an unearthly visualization, but also a modest expression which we can regard as the essence of spontaneous creations.

Jean Dubuffet (artist, writer) was a passionate collector of Art Brut creations; he wrote a letter in 1945 about the definition of Art Brut: “The manifestation of invention is the only function of arts…”

Art Brut includes the following: “Other types of creations-graphics, paintings, embroideries, figural models or statues etc.- present a spontaneous and intuitive character, what is more these characters become possible debtors for the official arts or cultural clichés.”

In 1949, the preface of the exposition’s catalogue at the René Drouin Gallery in Paris was written by Jean Dubuffet. He utilized the title “art brut” in his manifesto when he was struggling against the “high quality arts” of professional artists.

Definitions of Art Brut are strictly bound to personality and Jean Dubuffet’s instructions especially since artists had been discovered at psychiatric clinics in France or Switzerland. Less than two generations later the outsiders were sold out, therefore the conclusion: Art Brut is already history. In 1972, Dubuffet created the term “over the norms” for Raw Art because he wanted to distinguish it from another collection which was dreamt up by the architect Alan Bourbonnais on a legendary exhibition. In 1982, Dubuffet called the reappearance of Art Brut “Informal” because of Collection annexe. This fantastic art style received the final term “frank creations” in 1990 from Gérard Sendrey. Roger Cardinal used the “outsiders” expression for this amazing style in 1972.

Raw Art always appears with the same vehemence without fallacy and shows powerful autodidact expressions, or if we prefer more, the forms appear more intensive in contemporary art. In fact, art’s message doesn’t visible anymore in simple modes because it is opposite special things. The reactions reduce the monopoly of “the Art of crazy people” and over the years become more open-minded.


  • Michel Thévoz: Collection de l’Art Brut Lausanne. Genove, 2001
  • Laurent Danchin: Art Brut et compagnie: La face cachée de l’art contemporain, 1995