Nonconformers: A New History of Self-thaught Artists
Yale University Press, 2022
When the art world has paid attention to makers from outside the cultural establishment, including so-called outsider and self-taught artists, it has generally been within limiting categories. Yet these artists, including many women, people with disabilities, and people of color, have had a transformative influence on the history of modern art. Responding to growing interest in these artists, this book offers a nuanced history of their work and how it has been understood from the early twentieth century to the present day.
Nonconformers includes work by well-known figures such as Henry Darger, Hilma af Klint, and Bill Traylor alongside many other artists who deserve widespread recognition. After reviewing how self-taught artists factored into key movements of twentieth-century art, the book shifts to highlighting the voices of contemporary practitioners through new interviews with artists William Scott, Mamadou Cissé, and George Widener. An international group of contributors addresses topics such as the development of the Black Folk Art movement in America and l’Art Brut in France, the creative process of self-taught artists working outside of traditional studios, and the themes of figuration, landscape, and abstraction. Global in scope and with chronological breadth, this alternative narrative is an essential introduction to the genre long known as “Outsider Art.”