Venice Biennale, Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, MoMA, Met, National Gallery of art… In the last couple of years, “brut”, “outsider”, or “outlier” art seems to have taken some of the world’s leading art institutions by storm. Artists like Judith Scott, Adolf Wölfli, or Henry Darger now enjoy broad international recognition.
But their works raise a number of questions: while they undoubtedly piqued the curiosity of curators, critics, art historians, and museumgoers alike, the recent success story of “outsider art” also stirred up confusion and raised a number of eyebrows. In order find one’s way through the maze of “brut”, “outsider”, or “outlier” art, a fresh bag of conceptual breadcrumbs could undoubtedly come in handy.
The symposium “Art brut, an unclassifiable object?” at Bordeaux-Montaigne University, by positioning itself at the crossroads of philosophy and so-called “brut” productions, will attempt to provide just that. By using the rigorous, even occasionally demystifying toolbox of philosophy, its goal is to unravel the muddled layers of discourses that surround such productions, but also to foster new lines of inquiry into the multiple ways in which “brut”, “outsider”, or “outlier” works seem to compel us to question received ideas about the nature and the boundaries of art.
The interdisciplinary orientation of the symposium will help tackle such questions from a variety of perspectives, by combining the respective methodologies of esthetic philosophy, art history, psychiatry, and literary studies. It will also involve a dialogue with curators and other professionals of “art brut”, with a special screening of Arthur Borgnis’ recent feature-length documentary on the topic, and the participation of the Musée de la Création Franche. The latter will open its door to the symposium in order to create the conditions for a closer encounter with the works, allowing participants to better grasp the unbridled originality of the museum’s holdings, and the thorny practical issues related to their curation and conservation.
Organizers: Marina Seretti (Université Bordeaux-Montaigne) & Raphael Koenig (Harvard University).
Dates: October 4th and 5th, 2018.
Location: Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, Musée de la Création Franche.