Thornton Dial and Looking Good for the Price - Hyperallergic

Thornton Dial and Looking Good for the Price - Hyperallergic

An assemblage by Alabama artist Thornton Dial (1928–2016), currently on view at Andrew Edlin Gallery in Soho, smacks of why the descriptors “outsider” and “folk” are pointless and potentially damaging to artists when used as modifiers with “art.” The 1993 work, titled “Looking Good for the Price,” also exemplifies, due to its sheer gorgeousness, exactly why Dial belongs in the Met’s 20th Century Modern and Contemporary galleries alongside the de Koonings and Pollocks, without any caveats like “southern,” “folk” or “outsider” typically assigned to the Black artist, who never received a formal education.

Does Being Labeled an ‘Outsider Artist’ Stall a Market? Thornton Dial, Now a Museum Sensation, Is Poised to Break Out - artnet News

Does Being Labeled an ‘Outsider Artist’ Stall a Market? Thornton Dial, Now a Museum Sensation, Is Poised to Break Out - artnet News

At what point does an artist become so thoroughly absorbed into the mainstream art world that the term “outsider artist” no longer applies? And is it even a useful term in the first place, or does it only constrain our understanding of an artist’s work? These questions are at the heart of the current conversation around self-taught artist Thornton Dial, who was born into poverty in Alabama in 1928 but lived to see his work acquired by some of the most august museums in the world.

Rethinking Cultural Currents of the South — The Nation

Rethinking Cultural Currents of the South — The Nation

Bad habits die hard, but now and then they fade away, clearing the air for a little fresh thought. There is a breeze blowing through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York just now, where History Refused to Die: Highlights From the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift, an exhibition of 30 works by African Americans made in the South between the civil-rights era and the early years of the present century, has swept aside the patronizing labels attached by critics and historians to art they can’t easily account for. Neither folk, outsider, self-taught, nor outlier, this work by little-known artists touched with greatness is exhibited on its own merits. Made mostly of found materials in isolated communities, it speaks eloquently, if paradoxically, of a better country than the one we know or think we know.

With “Outliers” at the High and Souls Grown Deep at the Met, has outsider art finally arrived on the inside?

With “Outliers” at the High and Souls Grown Deep at the Met, has outsider art finally arrived on the inside?

The art world is a clubby place, long dominated by artists who are professionally trained, in sync with au courant theories and market savvy. The artists classified variously as folk, primitive, self-taught and outsider, by definition, lack these traits. Their work is generally considered a field apart, separate but not equal: It is telling that the High Museum, which initiated a department and hired its first curator of folk and self-taught art in 1994, is still one of the few museums to have done so.

For the First Time, See Historically Excluded Black Folk Artists at the Met - Smithsonian Magazine

For the First Time, See Historically Excluded Black Folk Artists at the Met - Smithsonian Magazine

WNYC’s art critic Deborah Solomon predicts that many of the artists featured in a recently opened show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will soon become household names. It’s a high bar, but one that History Refused to Die excites. The exhibition highlights 30 works by self-taught black artists from the American South. This is the first time the Met has exhibited works by these historically excluded artists. By presenting their sculptures, paintings, quilts and other artistic works alongside the Met’s 20th-century collection, the artists—considered Outsider artists for their nontraditional approaches or mediums—are finally being given the recognition they deserve.

‘History Refused to Die’ Review: A Visual Equivalent of Jazz - The Wall Street Journal

‘History Refused to Die’ Review: A Visual Equivalent of Jazz - The Wall Street Journal

In the mid-1980s, William S. Arnett, a writer, curator, entrepreneur, Georgia native, and collector of African art, turned his attention closer to home—the efforts of self-taught African-American artists of the rural South. Mr. Arnett became a passionate collector and advocate of this work, characterizing it as the visual counterpart of jazz, a uniquely American, improvisational art form forged from African roots and the troubled history of American black experience: slavery, the Civil War, emancipation, reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, lynchings, the civil-rights movement. In 2010, Mr. Arnett created the Souls Grown Deep Foundation—the name comes from a Langston Hughes poem—which, among other things, has supported artists in the collection, organized exhibitions, and published handsome volumes. Recently, the foundation has made donations to museums across the U.S., including, in 2014, 57 works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

A New Met Exhibit Shows That Mark Rothko Made Paintings As Good As The Quilts Of Gee's Bend — Forbes

A New Met Exhibit Shows That Mark Rothko Made Paintings As Good As The Quilts Of Gee's Bend — Forbes

In midcentury New York City, artists approached painting with revolutionary fervor. The aim was nothing less than "to wrest truth from the void," as Barnett Newman proclaimed in 1945. The paintings made by Newman were visionary, as were the canvases of fellow abstractionists including Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly, and Frank Stella. They were as compositionally innovative and artistically compelling as the quilts being stitched in Gee's Bend, Alabama.

Outsider Art Comes to the Metropolitan Museum - Hyperallergic

Outsider Art Comes to the Metropolitan Museum - Hyperallergic

The entry of works from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation into the Met’s collection has prompted the museum to rethink the way it presents 20th-century art history.

 

Outsider art is having another big moment in the United States, marked by plenty of talk about the heroic and the historic, and hailed with hosannas of the “It’s about time!” variety.

 8 Famous Artists Who Were Self-Taught - Artsy

8 Famous Artists Who Were Self-Taught - Artsy

Humans have been making art since the dawn of time, often with little education in materials, techniques, or theory, yet the notion of the “self-taught artist” is a relatively new phenomenon. In order to create art outside of the traditional channels, after all, you first need to create those traditional channels—by which we typically mean the established schools and academies that codify art education into defined standards and practices. And in the West, that history largely began in 1635 with the Académie Française, which radically professionalized the art field.

At the Met, a Riveting Testament to Those Once Neglected — The New York Times

At the Met, a Riveting Testament to Those Once Neglected — The New York Times

American art from the 20th and 21st centuries is broader, and better than previously acknowledged, especially by museums. As these institutions struggle to become more inclusive than before, and give new prominence to neglected works, they rarely act alone. Essential help has come from people like William Arnett and his exemplary Souls Grown Deep Foundation. Their focus is the important achievement of black self-taught artists of the American South, born of extreme deprivation and social cruelty, raw talent and fragments of lost African cultures.