What is Art Brut?

What is Art Brut?

Art in its rawest and most direct manifestation: that is what Art Brut is. This type of fine art is difficult to define or classify under a common denominator, for there is hardly any kinship with any existing art form. It is created by artists who express what is within them without concern for existing ideas or theories about fine art. They don’t ask for attention or appreciation, but their work surely deserves it. It is that conviction which motivated the Art Brut Biennale to offer a platform to the pure artistic work created by artists both from our own country and from abroad. So that their work can truly speak for itself.

Art Brut: art without baggage

Without the work of Art Brut artists, 20th century art history would look very different. The work of psychiatric patients was discovered in the 1920s The art world was overwhelmed by the incredible intensity of their work, its authenticity, rawness and wealth of images and ideas. Qualities that were imitated in the oeuvre of mainstream artists. The name Art Brut (literally: raw art) was invented by the French artist Jean Dubuffet. In 1948, together with Andre Breton – a leading artist in the surrealist movement – he founded a society called Société de l’Art Brut. Besides being an artist, Dubuffet was a descendant of a famous winemakers family and he compared the art of psychiatric patients with champagne brut: pure, clear and refreshing.

Being dissatisfied with the current art culture, Jean Dubuffet visited psychiatric clinics in search of work that expressed the raw identity of the artist. What he found was sometimes dark and intense, but always authentic and completely different from all art he had thus far encountered.

Up until today, we consider Art Brut a type of fine art that shows hardly any affiliation with existing artistic styles. That has everything to do with the makers, who don’t (want to) have anything to do with the culturally conditioned intellectual debate within the art world. In the wake of Dubuffet, the present-day arts community is actually still trying to discover creativity in its purest form, original and without mannerisms, able to seduce, amaze, surprise, and encouraging reflection.

Meanwhile, we also include the work of mentally challenged people in the Art Brut field. Amongst them are many artists who express themselves in a wide diversity of shapes, forms and materials. Their work is often primary expression. Not planned, but spontaneous, sparkling and colorful.