The Outsider Art Fair is pleased to present
Art Brut Global, a virtual exhibition of artworks sourced through our network of renowned galleries and dealers.
A three-phase project, Phase I highlights works by canonical artists in our field from the world’s leading experts in Outsider Art, our exhibitors.
As a leading focal point of the Outsider Art world, OAF is uniquely positioned to organize an exhibition that assembles the best available works in our field, and rally the passionate community of aficionados, collectors, and fairgoers that have been following OAF since its inception twenty-eight years ago.
Many of the dealers participating in Art Brut Global are pioneers in the world of self-taught art and exhibited at the first iteration of OAF which took place in 1993 at New York City’s Puck Building. These include American Primitive, Henry Boxer, Cavin-Morris, Fleisher/Ollman, Carl Hammer, Marion Harris and Ricco/Maresca. Also participating are veteran dealers like Yukiko Koide, Creative Growth, Andrew Edlin, J.P. Ritsch-Fisch, Galerie du Marché and Les Yeux Fertiles.
Outsider Art dealers have carved out an historically important and influential niche in the art world landscape, thriving on the strength of the powerful art they have unearthed in places where few others were looking. With the help of astute writers and visionary curators, artists who today are the cornerstones of the Outsider Art and Art Brut canon like Aloïse Corbaz, Henry Darger, Thornton Dial, Martin Ramirez, Judith Scott, Bill Traylor and Adolf Wölfli, have transcended those categories and been recognized as some of the greatest artists of their times. Now, a new generation of dealers and scholars has risen to the fore, making discoveries and using digital technology to reveal and disseminate incredible accounts of self-taught creators and the universes they invent.
Works by nineteen canonical artists have been selected by OAF for the first phase of Art Brut Global, aligning them with their countries of origin. Phase II will highlight more recent discoveries and is scheduled for mid-June. Phase III will feature accomplished living artists and is currently planned for late summer/early fall.
For background information on the artists in Art Brut Global please scroll down below the display of available works.
Artists: Ilija Bosilj Bašičević (Serbia) | Nek Chand (India) | James Castle (United States) | Felipe Jesus Consalvos (Cuba) | Aloïse Corbaz (Switzerland) | Guo Fengyi (China) | Auguste Forestier (France) | Eugène Gabritschevsky (Russia) | Madge Gill (United Kingdom) | Johann Hauser (Austria) | Augustin Lesage (France) | Martín Ramírez (Mexico) | Shinichi Sawada (Japan) | Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern (Germany) | Bill Traylor (United States) | Frank Walter (Antigua) | Adolf Wölfli (Switzerland) | Anna Zemánková (Czech Republic) | Carlo Zinelli (Italy)
About the Artists
Shinichi Sawada (1982 – )
Shinichi Sawada was born in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Sawada has autism and rarely speaks. He creates fantastical clay beings, a world inhabited by demons, reptilian beasts and ocean dwelling creatures. These mythical beings are patiently formed using hundreds of handmade spikes in an inimitable style which has become Sawada's signature. Sawada has attended Nakayoshi Fukushikai, a social welfare organisation for individuals with disabilities, since the year 2000, where he divides his time working in the sculpture hut and in the institution’s bakery.
Sawada’s work has been exhibited very selectively, most notably at The Encyclopedic Palace at the 55th Venice Biennale (2013), as well as Halle Saint Pierre, Paris (2018), the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne (2008 and 2013) and the Wellcome Collection, London (2013).
Ilija Bosilij Bašičević (1895–1972)
Ilija Bašičević (who later adopted the surname Bosilij as an artistic pseudonym) was born in the town of Šid, in what is now Serbia and Montenegro. After enduring constant hardship through both World Wars, Bosilj took up art at the age of 62. In the 1950s, a “naive” art renaissance swept through Yugoslavia. This peasant revival – vehement in its opposition to the “decadent” modernism of Western Europe and in tune with nationalistic sentiments – was condoned if not actively encouraged by the Communist regime. The artist was influenced in his choice of subject matter by the largely oral traditions of Serbian folk poetry, myth and history.
Bosilij’s work figures prominently in the permanent collection of the Museum Charlotte Zander in Bönnigheim, Germany, and is also held by the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Museum Ilijanum in Šid.
His work was exhibited continuously at Galerie St. Etienne in New York beginning in 2004, and was included in Turbulences dans les Balkans at Halle Saint Pierre, Paris (2018).
James Castle (1899–1977)
Born deaf in rural Idaho at the end of the 19th century, Castle captured his daily life in hauntingly empty landscapes and farm scenes. He used paper and materials like packing tape and cardboard made available to him by his parents, who worked as postmasters, as well as images culled from packages, magazines and other print sources. Drawing with a sharpstick dipped into a mix of soot and his own spit, he conjured the people and places he knew well with consistent simplicity and integrity that marks the entire scope of his oeuvre, from the smallest sketch to more complex, inventive constructions.
Castle’s work is included in many public collections including the American Folk Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Solo exhibitions include the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2008), Museo Nacional Centro De Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2011), and Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. (2014).
Nek Chand (1924–2015)
Nek Chand’s Rock Garden in Chandigarh, India demonstrates the imaginative vision and fervency of creation that animates the greatest of outsider artists. It is a twenty-five acre artwork containing over two thousand sculptures and naturally formed rocks dramatically placed throughout a multi-chambered environment filled with lush vegetation, flowing streams, and dramatic waterfalls cascading down rock embankments, all linked by an intricate web of winding walkways.
Starting in the early 1960s, Chand took up what became his life’s artistic mission in a secret act of appropriating public land in defiance of the government for which he worked as a road inspector. Personally compelled to create a physical expression of his ideal dream world he worked each night placing anthropomorphic found rocks and the concrete figurative sculptures he had made throughout his miniature kingdom. The secret site was discovered in 1972, but in response to the ensuing public amazement and support for what was recognized as a magical space, the government chose not destroy it, but rather to preserve it and ultimately provided Nek Chand a budget and helpers to continue building and even expand it. In 1976 the garden was officially opened as a nationalized site. It is now the second most popular tourist destination in all of India, surpassed only by the Taj Mahal.
Felipe Jesus Consalvos (1891–1960)
Born outside Havana, Felipe Jesus Consalvos emigrated to Miami around 1920, eventually settling in New York and finally Philadelphia, where he died sometime in the 1950’s or 1960’s. Consalvos worked for much of his life as a cigar roller, and he extrapolated the vernacular tradition of cigar band collage to a highly sophisticated, inimitable practice.
His obsessive body of work—approximately 750 surviving collages on paper, found photographs, musical instruments, furniture, and other unexpected surfaces, all discovered in 1980 at a West Philadelphia garage sale—merges the biting socio-political satire and absurdist impulses of Dadaists like Kurt Schwitters and Max Ernst with the abstruse mysticism of Joseph Cornell. Consalvos likewise parallels and prefigures certain contemporaneous developments in Surrealist, Futurist, and Pop collage, design, and even poetry.
Consalvos’ work is in the permanent collections of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the American Folk Art Museum, New York, the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI.
Guo Fengyi (1942–2010)
Guo Fengyi was born in Xi'an, central China. She obtained her high school diploma in 1962 and found work in a rubber factory. However, severe bouts of arthritis forced her to give up her career at the age of thirty-nine. She turned to alternative medicine in the hope of alleviating her symptoms, and found a new spiritual path in Qi Gong. She started experiencing visions in 1989, as a result of which she produced large numbers of drawings, first on the backs of pages from calendars, then later on rice paper.
She worked with Indian ink and brushes, producing works up to five meters long, drawn with no initial plan in mind, discovering her own creation as she worked. The multitude of delicate lines form ghostly figures, dragons, phoenixes, and faces, sometimes interwoven, smiling and serene or terrifying and monstrous.
In 2013, Guo Fengyi's works were featured in three major exhibitions: The Encyclopedic Palace at the 55th Venice Bienniale, the Carnegie International, Pittsburgh, and the Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward Gallery, London. A solo exhibition To See from a Distance took place at the Drawing Center, New York, in 2020.
Frank Walter (1926–2009)
The artistic heritage of the island nation of Antigua deepened dramatically with the recent emergence of its native son Frank Walter – reclusive artist, writer, philosopher and poet. Walter’s death brought to light a remarkable trove of his paintings, sculpture, photographs, and constructions, along with at least 25,000 pages of his writing, that reveal a talent and intelligence not fully appreciated or understood during his lifetime. Walter chose to spend the last decades of his life isolated on a hilltop in a self-built house without water or electricity. Upon his passing, Walter’s family carefully recorded and conserved as many as 1,500 objects found in his home.
Frank Walter was a keen observer of humanity though he spent much of his life alone. Walter worked most often with found materials on which he painted remarkable landscapes, as well as elaborate visions of the universe and cryptic musings on nuclear energy. Each displays a refined awareness of abstraction and design, and a formal sensibility reminiscent of the twentieth century’s greatest masters.
In 2017, Walter was selected to represent the nation of Antigua and Barbuda at the 57th Venice Biennale – their first-ever participation in the international event.
Carlo Zinelli (1916–1974)
Born in Verona, Carlo suffered trauma in the Spanish Civil War, and also during World War II. He was hospitalized for schizophrenia in 1947, and is noted to have experienced great difficulty with basic communication. He began to make paintings that have long been celebrated not only for their undeniable visual power, but also for evidencing strong linguistic patterns.
In 1955, Carlo was observed drawing on the wall of his asylum courtyard with nails and bricks. He was encouraged to make art by a visiting artist, and soon began to flourish in the hospital art studio provided for patients, which provided paper, pen, gouache, and and creative sanctuary. His paintings are cryptic, visually dynamic puzzles in which figures, animals, architectural structures, and language fragments combine to suggest strong, yet untranslatable utterances in a mysterious language known only to the artist.
Carlo’s work has been featured in numerous important exhibitions including Parallel Visions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1992), Dubuffet and Art Brut (2005) hosted by the Kunst Palast Museum in Dusseldorf, and Glossolalia (2008) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. A major solo exhibition was held at the American Folk Art Museum, New York in 2017.
Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern (1892–1982)
Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern's path to artistic recognition was not an easy one. Born in Kaukehmen, East Prussia, he was incorrectly diagnosed as schizophrenic. He vagabonded in Germany for several years, essentially dropping out of existence until reappearing in 1919 as Professor Dr. Eliot Gnass von Sonnenstern, a quack practitioner of palmistry and natural health remedies. "Gnass" hoodwinked a broad section of the public but, instead of pocketing his proceeds, he gave his money to the poor. The next several years found "Gnass" in recurring trouble with German authorities suspicious of his holistic practices. He regularly landed himself in jail, lunatic asylums and penal camps before escaping in 1944 to Berlin, where he survived by selling firewood scavenged from the city's post-war ruins.
In 1949, aged 57 and lacking any formal visual arts training, Schröder-Sonnenstern began to draw. An intense repertory of images rapidly poured forth from the artist's hand. Combining fragments from biblical, mythological, and literary sources, Schröder-Sonnenstern's roguish entities are at once farcical, demonical and highly erotic. His fantastical drawings are without iconographic precedent. Executed in colored pencil on paper and board, his otherworldly forms and scenes are often combined with texts penciled directly onto the surfaces of the drawings. The works attack bourgeois sensibilities at every level with a message that is both deeply dystopian and oddly euphoric.
His work was championed by many renowned artists including Hans Bellmer, Andre Breton, Jean Dubuffet and Marcel Duchamp, who included him in many important exhibitions of their work in Paris and New York beginning in the late 1950s. Overlooked for decades, a major exhibition at Michael Werner Gallery in New York in 2011, From Barefoot Prophet to Avant-Garde Artist, received great acclaim.
Johann Hauser (1926–1996)
Born an orphan in what is now the Czech Republic, Hauser was placed in a home for mentally disabled children. At age 17, he was placed in a psychiatric hospital, and in 1947, was transferred to Gugging, where he would live for the rest of his life. He began to draw with colored pencils soon after moving to Gugging, and his early work soon came to the attention of Dr. Leo Navratil, who observed him closely and took over his primary care in 1966.
Hauser's work and behavior were instrumental in the development of Dr. Navratil's "anti-psychiatric" vision of a free, communal environment for asylum artists that would be realized in 1981 with the inauguration of Gugging's House of Artists.
Hauser's drawings are raw and erotic. The artist focused his attention on the female form, in which he saw not only an object of desire, but also a source of great power. For Hauser, eroticism was a violent force, evident in his agitated figures, exaggerated physiognomy, and gestural force lines.
Hauser’s works are in the permanent collections of many museums including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Setagaya Museum, Tokyo, and the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne.
Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930)
One of the most hallowed artists in the pantheon of Outsider Art, Adolf Wölfli is responsible for inspiring the earliest attempt to truly recognize the Outsider as an artist. Born in Bern in 1864, Wölfli was orphaned at age 10, and endured consistent sexual and physical abuse within the state foster system. He worked briefly as a farm laborer until, following a series of prison terms for attempted child abuse, he was diagnosed with psychosis, and in 1895 was committed to the Waldau Clinic in Bern, where he lived and flourished creatively until his death in 1930.
Wölfli’s early works drew the attention of a psychiatrist at Waldau, Dr. Walter Morganthaler, who recognized his talent and responded to the challenge of honoring it as more than simply a symptom of mental illness. Morganthaler published a seminal study of Wölfli’s work in 1921 entitled A Mental Patient as Artist with the intention of positing a universal psychological theory of creativity, earning Wölfli unprecedented recognition. In 1908 he began his autobiographical magnum opus of 2500 pages of both drawings and collages, filling 45 bound volumes. He also produced a significant archive of smaller, decorative works he called “bread art,” as they were intended to bring in a small income to pay for basic art supplies.
Thanks to the Wölfli scholar and curator, Elke Spoerri, we have a clear view into this classic Outsider’s formidable oeuvre, which the artist called “Saint-Adolf-Giant-Creation.” The first book, titled “From the Cradle to the Grave” (1908-1912), is an imaginary autobiography as a child, engaged in fantastical adventures. These compositions are framed by the artist’s signature ornamental border, and are marked by composite perspective, intricate cityscapes, and a mix of text and image, including his unique bestiary of ornamental birds and self-portraits, which change as the narrative evolves.
Adolf Wölfli’s drawings sit at the top of the Art Brut canon and have been exhibited in prestigious international exhibitions for many decades. From Documenta 5, Kassel, in 1972 to Parallel Visions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1992, Wölfli’s oeuvre is reflexively included in any serious survey of Art Brut. The vast majority of his output resides at the Adolf Wölfli Foundation at The Museum of Fine Arts, Bern. His art is included in may public collections including the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, the American Folk Art Museum, New York, and the Museum of Modern Art, Paris.
Anna Zemánková (1908–1986)
Anna Zemánková's lyrical, otherworldly botanically-inclined compositions are as beautiful as they are mysterious. Her mediumistic working method was akin to that of other Outsiders partnering with unseen, guiding forces, yet her oeuvre stands radically apart from work produced within a communal Spiritualist context.
Born Anna Velelá on August 23, 1908 in Moravia, which is now part of the Czech Republic, Zemánková was dissuaded by her family from pursuing art, and instead studied dentistry. She married and raised a family, settling in Prague after WWII. As she grew older, she suffered from the dispersal of her grown children, her deteriorating marriage and serious health issues, resulting in severe depression.
Her sons knew of her early love for making art, and attempting to lift her spirits, provided her with paper, paint, and pastels, Zemánková found solace and a renewed sense of purpose in her unique creative practice. Her creativity was expansive, and she experimented with crimping the paper, or sewing with silk thread through the drawings, adding a third dimension. Sometimes she collaged a drawing over another drawing, extending the collaged edges over the original drawing. Of her imagery, Zemánková has said: "If you think these are flowers they are from a garden not of this earth.”
Zemánková’s art has been exhibited internationally over many years and was included in the seminal Outsiders at the Hayward Gallery, London, in 1979. Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York has worked with her oeuvre since 1993. She is included in the permanent collections of the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, the American Folk Art Museum, New York, the Milwaukee Art Museum, New York and the Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, among others.
Auguste Forestier (1887–1958)
Auguste Forestier created magical objects that defy categorization. His legacy of jury-rigged assemblages could easily be mistaken for the inventory of an otherworldly toy store, overflowing with soldiers, miniature vehicles, guns, tools, and a fantastical bestiary, all carved and conjured from wood, objects, and materials available to him in the Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole Psychiatric Hospital.
Born on a farm in 1887 in France’s southeastern Lozere region, Forestier was known to be enthralled with trains. His curiosity led to trouble in 1914, when his placement of pebbles on train tracks caused a train to derail. This event landed him in the Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole Psychiatric Hospital at age 27, where he remained until his death in 1958. After his hospitalization, Forestier began to draw portrait busts and medallions. In the mid-1930s, he began to carve wooden toys for the children of the hospital employees.
Forestier’s sculptures and assemblages have always been a challenge to find. They were featured in Jean-Hubert Martin’s historic Dubuffet and Art Brut exhibition which traveled in 2005-06 from the Kunst Palast Museum, Dusseldorf, to the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, and finally to the Museum of Modern Art Lille Metropole, Villeneuve D’ascq, France.
Bill Traylor (1854–1942)
One of America's classic Outsider Artists, Bill Traylor was active for only several years (ca. 1939-1942), but is today recognized internationally for the over 1200, vibrant drawings on cardboard he produced on the sidewalks of Depression-era Montgomery, Alabama.
Born into slavery, Traylor remained on the plantation on which he was raised, to work and raise his own family, and moved to Montgomery in 1928. Forced to leave his job at a shoe factory due to a disability, he became homeless, yet was granted refuge at night in shops in th city's African-American neighborhood on Monroe Street. His work was collected and championed by local artist Charles Shannon. Shannon had the foresight to hold Traylor's oeuvre in storage until reintroducing it to the artworld during the late 1970s, just as interest in Outsiders was growing.
Traylor drew scenes of both rural and urban daily life, inspired in equal parts by memory and imagination. Ranging from simple portraits of local denizens to complex, activated compositions the artist called "exciting events," these drawings tell stories by means of a reductive, formal sensibility in which many have recognized hallmarks of the modern. Men in top hats, women with arms akimbo, ferocious dogs, drunkards, children, stubborn mules, and lively domestic quarrels have inspired scholarly interpretations ranging from the plausible to the ridiculous. Traylor's brilliantly conceived tall tales, made for an audience of passers-by, will never lose their mystery.
Traylor’s Art has been widely exhibited in museums throughout the United States. Major solo exhibitions were held in 2019 at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C. and in 2013 at the American Folk Art Museum, New York. His work is in many public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the American Folk Art Museum, New York.
Banner caption: Bill Traylor at work, Montgomery, AL, ca.1940s, via the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
Aloïse Corbaz (1886–1964)
Born into a middle class family, Aloïse Corbaz received a traditional education, including drawing and singing lessons that spurred her fervent desire to become an opera singer. After working as a governess in the entourage of Kaiser Wilhelm II, for whom she developed an intense–and imaginary–attachment, she returned to Lausanne at the start of World War I and soon exhibited signs of mental collapse. She was diagnosed in 1918 as schizophrenic and placed for the remainder of her life in the asylum La Rosière in Gimel, where she began making art and eventually became known simply as Aloïse.
Her art was recognized by Dr. Hans Steck and preserved by Steck’s student Jacqueline Porret-Forel. Madame Porret-Forel introduced Jean Dubuffet to the artist and her work, which he saw as exemplary of art brut. Although Aloïse said little to Dubuffet, he speculated that she was not mad; rather, she found a space within her “madness” to establish a selfhood where she could create her remarkable visual universe independent of the cultural world.
Aloïse’s art has been exhibited internationally for many decades. Solo exhibitions include the Museum Lagerhaus, St. Gallen, in 1993, and the Collection de L’Art Brut and the Museum Cantonall des Beaux Arts, both in Lausanne, in 2012. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Collection de L’Art Brut, and the American Folk Art Museum, New York, among others.
Martín Ramírez (1895–1963)
Born in Tepatilan, Jalisco, Mexico in 1895, Martín Ramírez was a rancher and a family man, until poverty and political violence drove him to California in search of migrant work in 1925. In 1931 Ramírez was diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia and committed to state hospitals, first in Stockton, and then at the DeWitt State Hospital in Auburn. He began to draw in the 1930s, using unlikely materials culled from hospital supplies. Erroneously labeled a chronic mute, Ramírez flourished as an artist until his death in 1963, producing an impressive body of over 300 large-scale, mixed-media drawings. This oeuvre would have been lost if not for the advocacy of Dr. Tarmo Pasto, a Sacramento psychiatrist who met the artist after his move to DeWitt. Pasto offered him encouragement, some supplies, and later archived and exhibited his work.
Ramírez’s creative ingenuity was staggering. Patching together long, rectangular sheets of thin operating-table paper with mashed potatoes and spit, he drew with pencil, crayon, charcoal made from burned matchsticks. He made paint by chewing on colored newsprint, then spitting it into homemade bowls of hardened oatmeal. His isolated figures and scenes are often dramatically framed by his signature proscenium device: lively gauchos from the Mexico of his youth, stately Madonnas, trains disappearing into underworld tunnels, animals, a lone figure seated in contemplation, possibly a self-portrait. Onto more complex works, he layered collaged images from print sources. Recently discovered drawings made in the final years of his life reveal a bolder use of color, and riskier, more abstract compositions driven by his confident, undulating line.
Ramírez’ drawings have been exhibited widely in museums, most notably in solo exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, New York (2007, 2009), the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2010) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2017). His art is in the permanent collections of the Guggenheim Museum, New York, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the American Folk Art Museum, New York and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Eugène Gabritschevsky (1893–1971)
In 1950, Jean Dubuffet was introduced to the work of Eugène Gabritschevsky, a Russian expat hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital in Haar (near Munich). By this time, Gabritchevsky had been drawing and painting prolifically for over twenty years, thanks to the encouragement of his doctor and his brother. Gabritchevsky’s case and artwork had already drawn significant attention in psychiatric circles, due in part to the fact that he had achieved some success as a research biologist before the onset of his illness. His work was presented at the exhibition held at Sainte Anne Hospital, in conjunction with the first World Congress of Psychiatry, the same year.
Born in Moscow to a respected family, Gabritchevsky’s research in entomology, heredity, and genetic mutation took him to New York in 1924 to study at Columbia, to Paris in 1926 where he worked at the Pasteur Institute, and to Germany, where he was committed to an asylum in 1929.
Before his confinement, Gabritchevsky had dabbled in painting as a leisure activity. Once inside and given access to art supplies, he began to experiment with unorthodox techniques such as frottage (rubbing a base field of paint to achieve texture) and decalcomania (covering and imprinting a base layer of paint with materials and objects). His earliest work evokes biological imagery, such as the patterns found in coral. Gradually his work mutated in a variety of directions: fantastical zoological bestiaries of carefully drawn creatures, uncanny Rorshak-like figures captured by imprinting accidental shapes through paper-folding, and eventually increasingly ghostly visages conjured from a base layer of formless hand/brushstrokes by means of carefully placed dots for eyes.
Gabritschevsky’s work is in the permanent collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. From 2016-17, a solo exhibition, Theatre of the Imperceptible, traveled from the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, to La Maison Rouge, Paris, and to the American Folk Art Museum, New York.
Madge Gill (1882–1961)
Born Maude Ethyl Eades in London's East End to a single mother, Gill was placed in an orphanage at the age of 9. Eventually she married, but suffered further losses with the deaths of two of her four children, as well as the loss of one eye following a severe illness. Like many working class people of her generation, Gill turned to Spiritualism. At 38 she became a well-known medium, facilitating seances in partnership with her spirit-guide, “Myrninnerest,” who became the subject of hundreds of her post-card size drawings.
Gill’s drawings have been in numerous important exhibitions including Parallel Visions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (1992) and Dubuffet and Art Brut, hosted by the Kunst Palast Museum in Dusseldorf (2005). Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne.
Augustin Lesage (1876–1954)
Augustin Lesage was a coal miner in the far north of France who asserted that, at the age of 35, he had heard a voice tell him that he would become an artist. Up until that time, the only direct contact Lesage had had with the fine arts had been a visit to the art museum in Lille. Ultimately, the voice Lesage heard, which he believed was that of his younger sister, who had died at the age of three, instructed him about what subjects to paint and which materials to use to make his pictures. Lesage went on to make art and also to serve as a medium in spirit-summoning séances. Recalling his first compulsion to paint, Lesage said, “In January 1912, powerful spirits came and revealed themselves to me, ordering me to draw and paint, something which I had never done before..."
Leesage’s paintings have been in several major exhibitions, most notably Outsiders in 1979 at the Hayward Gallery, London, and The Encyclopedic Palace at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.