The Eye of the Beholder

17 Jun

This work is by Henry Darger, a reclusive custodian who lived in Chicago. His art, like his 15,000 page novel, was created in private. Don't be surprised if I write more about this guy. He's absolutely fascinating.

Today let’s talk about Art Brut.  Now that’s not the band.  The Mister likes their song “Formed a Band” so you should YouTube that now so that you’ll have something to small talk with him about.  That and his love of small puppies named Henry.  Anyway, the Art Brut I wanted to share with you today is art by, well, brutes.

You can read in numerous places that art is in the eye of the beholder.  What’s unique to Art Brut is that it is created by those who often don’t even see their work as art.  They are simply expressing themselves.  They aren’t looking to get famous or noticed.  Some even hide their artwork and it is only after their death that it is discovered.  Another reason to call this work “Brut” is that much of the art is done by those considered criminally insane and mentally disturbed.  Murderers, child molesters, schizophrenics.  Those who live on the periphery of what some bother to call normal society due to their differences.

This collection is housed in a small castle in Lausanne, Switzerland.  It is the beloved project of a painter named Jean Dubuffet.  He left his thousands of artistic finds and the name Art Brut to the city.   It is now the official collection of Art Brut though many museums of Outsider Art can be found in the Europe and America.  To learn more about the difference between the two click here.  Those who visit say that it’s not as much the work but the story behind it that stays with you, in some cases it haunts you.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on artists of one breed or another.  When I see their work or even the places they called their own I want to know a little bit about them.  Or a lot.  I react to art but I want to know what colored the perspective of the person who was making it.  What drove them to create.  What made their voice unique.  I look forward to L’Art Brut Museum simply because it puts both the narative and the work together in one place.  It allows you to see a bit through their eyes and maybe come away a little different.

And I really think travel is about learning about others.  Elvis Costello sang “they say travel broadens the mind until you can’t get your head outdoors”.  Whatever that means.  I just think that it’s harder to misunderstand others when you’ve bothered to get to know them.  Then you can really say with authority that they’re messed up.  Just as God intended.


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