ART IN THE ROUGH
Art Brut - called Outsider Art in English - is art created in the rough [brut] by artists who are still raw [brut], artists who haven’t been processed through formal training, who live outside the culture of galleries and museums. Although this term is often applied to visionary artists and mystics, originally it referred to artists who were well outside established mainstream art, many being profoundly mentally ill.
Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930), confined to a psychiatric hospital for most of his adult life was one of the first artists associated with the Art Brut tag.
Physically and sexually abused as a child, Wölfli was orphaned at the age of ten and raised in a series of foster homes. He worked as a farm laborer until he was arrested and later committed to a psychiatric hospital. (He was diagnosed with schizophrenia.) Some time after being admitted, Wölfli began making art, and music …
His doctor published a monograph about Wölfli and his art in 1921. In 1945, Jean Dubuffet, artist and founder of Art Brut, “discovered” Wölfli. 1921 … 1945: this, I think, is what it means to be an “outsider.”
Surrealist painter Andre Breton, considered Wölfli’s body of work ” one of the three or four most important works of the twentieth century.”
(For more, check out Madness and Art and Wikipedia.)