Art Brut By Alexander, Alisa
Art brut is a term and phenomenon created by the French artist and writer Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985). It refers to works of art created by artists who seemed to stand outside of culture—or more specifically the mid-20th century European art world and its institutions. Dubuffet sought a kind of art more radical than the avant-garde, which he thought had become increasingly homogenous and empty of invention. Modern artists no longer provided a sufficient critique of culture, so his search for a new and revolutionary art led him to fringes of society. “Art brut” translates to “raw art,” as Dubuffet viewed this kind of art to be “uncooked” by culture. He looked for works which owed “nothing to the imitation of art that one can see in museums, salons, and galleries; works which the artist has entirely derived (invention and manner of expression) from his own sources, from his own impulses and humours, without regard for the rules, without regard for current convention” (Prospectus et tous écrits suivants, 1967). Art brut artists were often eccentric personalities, psychiatric patients, non-professional artists, and prisoners. Most importantly, these artists created works that aimed to express the maker’s pure, unmediated vision, without any knowledge of or regard for previous traditions. Therefore, art brut creations are not unified in terms of formal qualities or medium, but rather by the status of the creator.