Nonconformers From Yale University Press Presents a New History of Self-taught Artists

What do we mean when we talk about Outsider Art?

When the art world pays attention to makers outside the cultural establishment, including so-called outsider and self-taught artists, it has generally been within limiting categories. Yet these artists, including many women, people with disabilities, and people of color, have had a transformative influence on the history of modern art.

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Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists by writer and curator Lisa Slominski calls for a nuanced approach to the history of “Outsider Art” and to the artists to whom the label “self-taught” has been applied. Providing an alternative narrative composed of perspectives from an international group of contributors, it includes texts by Michael Bonestell, Sophia Cosmadopoulos, Tom di Maria, Jo Farb Hernandez, Cheryl Finley, Katherine Jentleson, Sarah Lombardi, John Maizels, and Philip March Jones.

Among topics like the development of the Black Folk Art movement, the creative process of self-taught artists who don’t work in traditional studios, and themes of figuration, landscape, and abstraction, the larger goal of Nonconformers is to center the artists on their own terms. Work by well-known figures such as Henry Darger, Hilma af Klint, and Bill Traylor is presented alongside that of many others who are less widely recognized. After reviewing how self-taught artists factored into key movements during the twentieth century, the book shifts to highlighting the voices of contemporary practitioners through new interviews with artists William Scott, Mamadou Cissé, and George Widener.

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