Art Art

Outsider Art

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 18 May 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1222
  1. Gavin Yamey, deputy editor, wjm—Western Journal of Medicine
  1. Oakland, California, USA

    The Musgrave Kinley Collection from the Irish Museum of Modern Art

    Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, until 2 June 2002

    Rating: Embedded ImageEmbedded ImageEmbedded ImageEmbedded Image.

    What is the last piece of art that you looked at? The chances are that it was in a gallery, produced by an art school graduate, and that it was worth a small fortune in the lucrative art market. Even if it was a radical or conceptual piece—a cow sliced in half, a pile of bricks—it was probably deeply rooted in a cosy art establishment.

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    Untitled, Johann Hauser

    But there is another kind of art being made that is “exhibited” in psychiatric hospitals and orphanages, on prison walls, and in bus shelters and public lavatories. The artists are usually socially excluded, untrained, and often severely mentally ill. They are “outsiders”—not part of the sophisticated art world—expressing their inner lives through art, with no intention of becoming professionals.

    The Whitworth Art Gallery is showing one of the most important collections of such …

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