Art brut

One cannot understand the notion of Art Brut without taking an interest in the genealogy of thought of which it was born: first the Aristotelian idea according to which genius and folly are inseparable; then, at the verge of the 20th century, the awareness of non-occidental cultures and the revolutions of modern art and of the exploration of the subconscious.

Fundamentally, that is what allowed us to consider these creations for which academic culture had not prepared us.

The term itself, art brut, invented by Jean Dubuffet in 1945, thus designates creations produced by figures whose social or mental alterity often precludes them entirely from dominant cultural movements.

An art by the mentally ill, mediums, extraordinary figures taken over by a creative fervor. These artists, who do not define themselves as such, transgress the norms of established art without worrying about exhibiting or selling; most often, they hide away and have no other goal than to create. To create in the way one breathes, the way one builds a world to his (dis)liking, the way one renews ties to the universe. To create as if to bear witness to the mystery of being in this World. Ultimately, to come back to the genesis of art, to its metaphysics.

Now a part of the collections of the most important museums in the world – such as the MOMA, the Pompidou or the Tate Modern, with a substantial presence – for the first time in its history – at the Venice Biennale, inspiring an ever-increasing number of expositions, publications, colloquia and musings, art brut has become, at the beginning of the 21st century, the most vivifying field in art.

The one that gets people excited and teaches us to flee from dogmatism, and even to take on a courageous but healthy rewriting of Art History.


Christian Berst