Preview the Highlights From the Outsider Art Fair’s 25th Anniversary Edition

The fair, a biannual highlight of the art world circuit, was first held in 1993.

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Larry Lewis, Untitled (1950). Courtesy of Fred Giampietro Gallery.
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Bill Traylor, Untitled Blacksmith Shop Scene (1939). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
Bill Traylor, Untitled Blacksmith Shop Scene (1939). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Untitled (1969). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Untitled (1969). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
Henry Darger, At Jennie Richee (1950). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
Henry Darger, At Jennie Richee (1950). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
Joseph Yoakum, Valley of the Moon in Rocky Mtn Range (1969). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
Joseph Yoakum, Valley of the Moon in Rocky Mtn Range (1969). Courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery.
TODT, Untitled Painting on Paper (2013–16). Courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery and HudsonJones, photograph Brooke Shanesy.
TODT, Untitled Painting on Paper (2013–16). Courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery and HudsonJones, photograph Brooke Shanesy.
TODT, Chimpanzee (2015). Courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery and HudsonJones.
TODT, Chimpanzee (2015). Courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery and HudsonJones.
Frank Johnson, Wally’s Gang Book 116. Courtesy of Chris Byrne
Frank Johnson, Wally’s Gang Book 116. Courtesy of Chris Byrne.
John Martin, Untitled (2015). Courtesy of Creative Growth Art Center.
John Martin, Untitled (2015). Courtesy of Creative Growth Art Center.
William Scott, The Future of Science Fiction Supported to Scientists (2016). Courtesy of Creative Growth Art Center.
William Scott, The Future of Science Fiction Supported to Scientists (2016). Courtesy of Creative Growth Art Center.
Ted Ludwickzak, Untitled (1998). Courtesy of American Primitive Gallery.
Ted Ludwickzak, Untitled (1998). Courtesy of American Primitive Gallery.
Piotr Kozuch, Bather in a Bikini (1985). Courtesy of ZQ Art Gallery.
Piotr Kozuch, Bather in a Bikini (1985). Courtesy of ZQ Art Gallery.
Mary McCarthy (with Rita Mae Pettway), Watermelon in the Sky (2014). © 2016 Mary McCarthy/ARS, New York.
Mary McCarthy (with Rita Mae Pettway), Watermelon in the Sky (2014). © 2016 Mary McCarthy/ARS, New York.
Rita Mae Pettway, Untitled (2002). © 2016 Rita-Mae Pettway/ARS, New York.
Rita Mae Pettway, Untitled (2002). © 2016 Rita-Mae Pettway/ARS, New York.
Dubreus Lherisson, La Sirene (2016). Courtesy of Galerie Bourbon-Lally.
Dubreus Lherisson, La Sirene (2016). Courtesy of Galerie Bourbon-Lally.
Danielle Jacqui, Untitled (2016). Courtesy of Galerie Polysemie.
Danielle Jacqui, Untitled (2016). Courtesy of Galerie Polysemie.
Pinkie Maclure, Look Out! (2013). Courtesy of Henry Boxer Gallery.
Pinkie Maclure, Look Out! (2013). Courtesy of Henry Boxer Gallery.
William A Hall, California Symphony of Survival (circa 2010,. Courtesy of Henry Boxer Gallery.
William A Hall, California Symphony of Survival (circa 2010,. Courtesy of Henry Boxer Gallery.
Jean-Daniel Allanche, Casino Faso. Courtesy of Hervé Perdriolle.
Jean-Daniel Allanche, Casino Faso. Courtesy of Hervé Perdriolle.
José Garcia Montebravo, Cachita con Pichones (2003). Courtesy of Indigo Arts Gallery.
José Garcia Montebravo, Cachita con Pichones (2003). Courtesy of Indigo Arts Gallery.
Mack Dryden, Black Walnut Chorale (2015). Courtesy of J Compton Gallery.
Mack Dryden, Black Walnut Chorale (2015). Courtesy of J Compton Gallery.
Mose Tolliver, Moose Lady. Courtesy of Jack Hanley Gallery.
Mose Tolliver, Moose Lady. Courtesy of Jack Hanley Gallery.
Janet Sobel, Untitled (1942–46). Courtesy of James Barron Fine Art, ©Janet Sobel Estate.
Janet Sobel, Untitled (1942–46). Courtesy of James Barron Fine Art, ©Janet Sobel Estate.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Untitled (Portrait of Marie with pearls and sweater), circa 1940s. Courtesy of Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago.
Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, Untitled (Portrait of Marie with pearls and sweater), circa 1940s. Courtesy of Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago.
James Castle, Finger Painted Letters. Courtesy of Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago, photo by William Bengtson.
James Castle, Finger Painted Letters. Courtesy of Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago, photo by William Bengtson.
William Dawson, Untitled (1986). Courtesy of Karen Lennox Gallery.
William Dawson, Untitled (1986). Courtesy of Karen Lennox Gallery.
Paul Laffoley, The Gate of Brahman: The Cosmic Octave (1971). Courtesy of Kent Fine Art and the Estate of Paul Laffoley.
Paul Laffoley, The Gate of Brahman: The Cosmic Octave (1971). Courtesy of Kent Fine Art and the Estate of Paul Laffoley.
Paul Laffoley, The Flower of Evil (1971). Courtesy of Kent Fine Art and the Estate of Paul Laffoley.
Paul Laffoley, The Flower of Evil (1971). Courtesy of Kent Fine Art and the Estate of Paul Laffoley.
Steve Moseley, First Fundamentalist (2016). Courtesy of Lindsay Gallery.
Steve Moseley, First Fundamentalist (2016). Courtesy of Lindsay Gallery.
Morton Bartlett, Untitled (1950). Courtesy of Marion Harris.
Morton Bartlett, Untitled (1950). Courtesy of Marion Harris.
Artist Unknown, Ex-Voto, Head with injuries. Courtesy of Mariposa Unusual Arts.
Artist Unknown, Ex-Voto, Head with injuries. Courtesy of Mariposa Unusual Arts.
Carlo Zinelli, Untitled (1968–69). Courtesy of Maroncelli 12.
Carlo Zinelli, Untitled (1968–69). Courtesy of Maroncelli 12.
Bernard Gilardi, Conflict in Color (circa the 1970s). Courtesy of Portrait Society Gallery.
Bernard Gilardi, Conflict in Color (circa the 1970s). Courtesy of Portrait Society Gallery.
George Widener, PI Canvas (2016). Courtesy of Ricco Maresca.
George Widener, PI Canvas (2016). Courtesy of Ricco Maresca.
Gil Battle, Parole (2016). Courtesy of Ricco/Maresca Gallery
Gil Battle, Parole (2016). Courtesy of Ricco/Maresca Gallery
Leopold Strobl, Untitled (2015–068), 2015. Courtesy of Ricco Maresca.
Leopold Strobl, Untitled (2015–068), 2015. Courtesy of Ricco Maresca.
Prophet Royal Robertson, Artist Personal (1980). Courtesy of Shrine.
Prophet Royal Robertson, Artist Personal (1980). Courtesy of Shrine.
Prophet Royal Robertson, The Demon's Days (circa late 1970s). Courtesy of Shrine.
Prophet Royal Robertson, The Demon's Days (circa late 1970s). Courtesy of Shrine.
Charles A.A. Dellschau, Sexion Bomber (1919). Courtesy of Stephen Romano.
Charles A.A. Dellschau, Sexion Bomber (1919). Courtesy of Stephen Romano.
Martin Ramirez, Double Sided, Stag and Crowned Rider. Courtesy of Stephen Romano Gallery.
Martin Ramirez, Double Sided, Stag and Crowned Rider. Courtesy of Stephen Romano Gallery.
Martin Ramirez, Double Sided, Stag and Crowned Rider. Courtesy of Stephen Romano Gallery.
Martin Ramirez, Double Sided, Stag and Crowned Rider. Courtesy of Stephen Romano Gallery.
Artist Unknown, Serenity’s Child (1920). Courtesy of Steven S. Powers.
Artist Unknown, Serenity’s Child (1920). Courtesy of Steven S. Powers.
Ike Morgan, Mona Lisa, 2016). Courtesy of Webb Gallery.
Ike Morgan, Mona Lisa, 2016). Courtesy of Webb Gallery.
Moshe Baronestrevenakowske, Untitled. Courtesy of Webb Gallery.
Moshe Baronestrevenakowske, Untitled. Courtesy of Webb Gallery.
William S. Burroughs, 4 black celestial babies (1984). Courtesy of Webb Gallery.
William S. Burroughs, 4 black celestial babies (1984). Courtesy of Webb Gallery.
Courttney Cooper, Oktoberfest Beercan Centerpiece Tower. Courtesy of Western Exhibitions, photo by James Prinz.
Courttney Cooper, Oktoberfest Beercan Centerpiece Tower. Courtesy of Western Exhibitions, photo by James Prinz.
Junko Yamamoto, Untitled (circa 1990s). Courtesy of Yukiko Koide Presents
Junko Yamamoto, Untitled (circa 1990s). Courtesy of Yukiko Koide Presents
Bessie Harvey, Many Faced Totem (1986). Courtesy of Cavin Morris Gallery.
Bessie Harvey, Many Faced Totem (1986). Courtesy of Cavin Morris Gallery.
Peter Wickenden, Untitled #6 (2016). Courtesy of Fred Giampietro Gallery.
Peter Wickenden, Untitled #6 (2016). Courtesy of Fred Giampietro Gallery.
Minnie Evans, Untitled (two faces at median). Courtesy of Luise Ross Gallery.
Minnie Evans, Untitled (two faces at median). Courtesy of Luise Ross Gallery.
Bill Traylor, Untitled (Pgure chasing turkey), 1939–42. Courtesy of Luise Ross.
Bill Traylor, Untitled (Pgure chasing turkey), 1939–42. Courtesy of Luise Ross.
Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Uncle Sam Wants Your Surplus Fat (circa 1920–50). Courtesy Doodletown Farm, LLC and Fleisher/Ollman.
Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Uncle Sam Wants Your Surplus Fat (circa 1920–50). Courtesy Doodletown Farm, LLC and Fleisher/Ollman.
Larry Lewis, Untitled (1950). Courtesy of Fred Giampietro Gallery.
Larry Lewis, Untitled (1950). Courtesy of Fred Giampietro Gallery.
Susan Te Kahurangi King, Untitled, (circa 1985–89). Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery
Susan Te Kahurangi King, Untitled, (circa 1985–89). Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery
Raimundo Borges Falcao, Headdress (1999). Courtesy of Mariposa Unusual Arts.
Raimundo Borges Falcao, Headdress (1999). Courtesy of Mariposa Unusual Arts.
TODT, Allegories #3 (Green), 2014–16). Courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery and HudsonJones.
TODT, Allegories #3 (Green), 2014–16). Courtesy of Carl Solway Gallery and HudsonJones.
JJ Cromer, Untitled. Courtesy of American Primitive Gallery
JJ Cromer, Untitled. Courtesy of American Primitive Gallery
John Byam, Statue of Liberty. Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery.
John Byam, Statue of Liberty. Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery.
Henry Darger, Untitled. Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery.
Henry Darger, Untitled. Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery.
Morris Hirshfield, Pheasants (1945). Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery
Morris Hirshfield, Pheasants (1945). Courtesy of Andrew Edlin Gallery

When Sandy Smith launched the Outsider Art Fair in 1993, the term “Outsider Art” was an unfamiliar one, even to the art world cognoscenti. Though Outsider Art sometimes calls to mind work created by the mentally ill, and some artists featured do fit that description, the fair takes a wider view of the field, noting that “the central characteristic shared by Outsiders is their lack of conditioning by art history or art world trends.”

Now, as the fair prepares to debut its 25th edition (January 19–22), its presentation of work by self-taught artists has become a biannual highlight of the art world circuit, one showcasing a wide range of work that defies categorization and has, however improbably, developed a thriving art market of its own.

The fair’s history will take center stage at a booth curated by Edward M. Gomez featuring nine of the original exhibitors from 1993, including Chicago’s Carl Hammer Gallery, Philadelphia’s Fleisher/Ollman Gallery, and New York’s Luise Ross Gallery. Titled “The Outsider Art Fair: 25 Years,” the mini-exhibition will bring back to the fair 25 works shown over it’s quarter-century history, with one piece that was actually on view at each edition.

The presentation will feature a pastel and graphite drawing by Moshe Zephaniah Ezekiel Isaiah Mordecai Baronestrevenakowske, a newly discovered artist being shown for the first time this year by Texas’s Webb Gallery. The artist’s lifework was thrown out when he was evicted from his Denver apartment last year.

Moshe Baronestrevenakowske, Untitled. Courtesy of Webb Gallery.

Moshe Baronestrevenakowske, Untitled. Courtesy of Webb Gallery.

Luckily, his evocative drawings were rescued from the dumpster and passed along to a local antiques dealer. Now, Moshe (born James Brown) has a new home and studio, a dealer behind him, and he might well be poised to become the next big Outsider Art success story, following in the footsteps of the likes of Thornton Dial.

 

While there are some through lines across the fair’s history, there have been major changes over the years. In 2012, art dealer Andrew Edlin purchased the fair with his company Wide Open Arts. His vision for the fair, which included a second edition that launched in Paris later the next year, further eroded the already blurry boundaries between the self-taught artist and contemporary and Modern art.

Lucy-Mingo, Untitled (1947). © 2016 Lucy Mingo/ARS, New York.

Lucy-Mingo, Untitled (1947). © 2016 Lucy Mingo/ARS, New York.

Wide Open Arts is presenting a booth of its own at this year’s fair, featuring the work of the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, a community largely made up of former slaves who have been avid quilt makers since the beginning of the 20th century. This rich tradition, crafted from reused fabric scraps from old clothes, feed sacks, and other remnants, features striking abstract geometric designs.

A number of quilts from the community are now part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, thanks to a 2014 gift from Souls Grown Deep Foundation, which is dedicated to African-American art. A portion of all sales at the fair will go toward God’s Love We Deliver, which provides meals to New Yorkers suffering from severe illnesses.

See more works that will be on view at the fair in the above slideshow.


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