Honest and Unrefined | Reading Recommendations

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All the resources listed below are available free for GVSU students, faculty, and staff through the University Libraries using your GVSU login credentials. Special thanks to University librarians Amber Dierking and Kim Ranger for their support of our exhibition reading lists.

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Outsider art: spontaneous alternatives by Colin Rhodes

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Outsider Art : Spontaneous Alternatives

Colin Rhodes
New York, N.Y.: Thames & Hudson, 2000
Book

Outsider Art is the work produced outside the mainstream of modern western art by self-taught, untrained visionaries, spiritualists, eccentric recluses, folk artists, psychiatric patients, criminals and others beyond the imposed margins of society and the art market. Coined by Roger Cardinal in 1972, the term in English derived from Jean Dubuffet's "Art Brut"--Literally "raw art," "uncooked" by culture, unaffected by fashion, unmoved by artistic standards. In this indispensable book Colin Rhodes surveys the history and reception of Outsider Art - first championed by Dubuffet and the Surrealists, now appreciated by a wide public - while providing fresh insights into the achievements of both major figures and newly discovered artists. From spirit-guided Madge Gill to schizophrenic Adolf Wolfli, these individuals passionately and obsessively pursue the pictorial expression of their vision.


Groundwaters: a Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists by Charles Russell

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Groundwaters: A Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists

Charles Russell
London; New York: Prestel, 2011
Book

More than 100 years of unschooled artistic genius is gathered in this wide-ranging survey that will elight and inform Outsider Art's rapidly growing audience. Visionary art, art brut, art of the insane, naive art, vernacular art, "raw vision"--what do all these and many other categories describe? An art made outside the boundaries of official culture, first recognized more than a century ago by German psychiatrists who appreciated the profound artistic expression in the work of institutionalized patients. Promoted by brilliant museum curators like Alfred Barr and artists like Jean Dubuffet, such work became a wellspring of modern and contemporary art. 


Outliers and American vanguard art by Lynne Cooke with Douglas Crimp [and six others].

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Outliers and American Vanguard Art

Lynne Cooke with Douglas Crimp [and six others]
Washington: National Gallery of Art; Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2018
Book

Some 250 works explore three distinct periods in American history when mainstream and outlier artists intersected, ushering in new paradigms based on inclusion, integration, and assimilation. The exhibition aligns work by such diverse artists as Charles Sheeler, Christina Ramberg, and Matt Mullican with both historic folk art and works by self-taught artists ranging from Horace Pippin to Janet Sobel and Joseph Yoakum. It also examines a recent influx of radically expressive work made on the margins that redefined the boundaries of the mainstream art world, while challenging the very categories of "outsider" and "self-taught.


Everyday genius: self-taught art and the culture of authenticity by Gary Alan Fine

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Everyday Genius: Self-Taught Art and the Culture of Authenticity

Gary Alan Fine
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2004
Book

From Henry Darger's elaborate paintings of young girls caught in a vicious war to the sacred art of the Reverend Howard Finster, the work of outsider artists has achieved unique status in the art world. Celebrated for their lack of traditional training and their position on the fringes of society, outsider artists nonetheless participate in a traditional network of value, status, and money. After spending years immersed in the world of self-taught artists, Gary Alan Fine presents Everyday Genius, one of the most insightful and comprehensive examinations of this network and how it confers artistic value.


Outsider Art and Art Therapy : Shared Histories, Current Issues, and Future Identities by Rachel Cohen

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Outsider Art and Art Therapy: Shared Histories, Current Issues, and Future Identities

Rachel Cohen
London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2017
eBook

Outsider art, traditionally the work of psychiatric patients, offenders and minority groups, and art therapy have shared histories of art created in psychiatric care. As the two fields grow, this book reveals the current issues faced by both disciplines and traces their shared histories to help them build clearer and more coherent identities.More often than not, the history of art therapy has been tied to psychological and psychiatric roots, which has led to problems in defining the field and forced boundaries between what is considered'art'and what is considered'art therapy'. Similarly, the name and identity of outsider art is constantly debated. By viewing art therapy and outsider art through their shared histories, this book helps to alleviate the challenges and issues of definition faced by the fields today.


Grasping Things : Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Grasping Things: Folk Material Culture and Mass Society in America

Simon J. Bronner
Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1986
eBook

America stocks its shelves with mass-produced goods but fills its imagination with handmade folk objects. In Pennsylvania, the 'back to the city' housing movement causes a conflict of cultures. In Indiana, an old tradition of butchering turtles for church picnics evokes both pride and loathing among residents. In New York, folk-art exhibits raise choruses of adoration and protest. These are a few of the examples Simon Bronner uses to illustrate the ways Americans physically and mentally grasp things. Bronner moves beyond the usual discussions of form and variety in America's folk material culture to explain historical influences on, and the social consequences of, channeling folk culture into a mass society.


Envisioning Howard Finster: The Religion and Art of a Stranger From Another World

Click to access in the GVSU Libraries catalog.

Envisioning Howard Finster: The Religion and Art of a Stranger From Another World

Norman J. Girardot
University of California Press, 2015
eBook

The Reverend Howard Finster (1916–2001) was called the 'backwoods William Blake' and the 'Andy Warhol of the South,' and he is considered the godfather of contemporary American folk and visionary art. This book is the first interpretive analysis of the intertwined artistic and religious significance of Finster's work within the context of the American 'outsider art' tradition.


What is Outsider Art?

'Outsider Art is a catch-all term,’ explains Christie’s specialist Cara Zimmerman. ‘It encompasses a lot of different types of art makers, but I tend to classify it as art made by people who weren’t working within the artistic establishment.’ In the United States, she says, the material stems from a folk-art tradition. Most Outsider artists received no formal training and were influenced by pop culture and the world around them rather than other mainstream artists. In the modern world, says Zimmerman, ‘The idea of an artist removed from society doesn’t exist.’ In this video, the specialist looks at Critter by William Edmondson (1874-1951), whom she describes as possibly her ‘favourite artist of all’. Edmondson held two jobs for much of his adult life: from 1900 to 1907 he worked for the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway, and from around 1907 to 1931 he served as a janitor at the Nashville Women’s Hospital. After he lost his job at the hospital, Edmondson decided to become a tombstone carver. ‘After a while he started to carve what he called his garden ornaments,’ says Zimmerman, looking over the skilled architectural carving on Critter. Remarkably, Edmonsdon became the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibition at the MoMA.

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