Monday, January 25, 2010

New Orleans Museum of Art: Two Sides to Every Story

Just went to New Orleans this weekend and while there visited the New Orleans Museum of Art. On a title-card beside a Jean Dubuffet painting there, the curator defined "outsider art" as (I'm quoting here): "The untrained art of children and the insane." The problem with defining art made by unconventional, untraditional artists is that definers seem doomed to create definitions that are just simple antonyms for "The Real Thing". Meaning: they always seemed hooked on the idea that outsider art is defiintely not insider art. But really art is art is art, and great art always somehow finds its way through the levels of BS. Proof: at the same museum in New Orleans there was a Henry Darger piece hanging in the contmeporary art section. The title-card for this piece did not mention that Darger was an outsider artist. It just listed his name, birth and death dates, and the materials he used. The work alone said everything.