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Definition: art brut from The Macquarie Dictionary

the spontaneous pictorial compositions of psychotics, children and amateur painters, sometimes considered to have formal aesthetic value.

Etymology: French : raw art

Summary Article: art brut
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Term coined by the French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe various types of art produced outside the conventional art world. Literally the term means ‘raw art’, but it is sometimes translated into English as outsider art. The outsiders who practise such art include people in prison or psychiatric hospital. Dubuffet believed that the work of such people had a spontaneous power lacking in the polished work of professional artists.

Dubuffet's own artistic work often used unconventional materials, and he began collecting art brut in 1945, influenced by a visit to Switzerland, where he saw pictures by patients in mental hospitals. From then on he devoted much of his time to promoting art brut through exhibitions and lectures. He made a very large collection, more than 5,000 items, and in 1972 he presented it to the city of Lausanne, Switzerland; it opened to the public in 1976. About half the work in the collection was produced by patients in psychiatric hospitals. Among the artists represented were two remarkable British personalities: Madge Gill (1882–1961), an uneducated woman who in 1919 began producing drawings when she was in a trancelike state, allegedly guided by a friendly spirit; and Scottie Wilson (1889–1972), a self-taught artist who produced colourful decorative fantasies. Wilson was barely literate and in his early days led a wandering life, but after settling in London at the end of World War II he made a good living selling his work to art dealers.

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