Outsider Art Fair draws biggest audience in history

The Outsider Art fair is an annual Art exhibit that celebrated its 20th anniversary this month.

The critically acclaimed Art Fair celebrated 20 years of offering exhibits on self-taught, outsider and folk art, with a record attendance of 9,500 visitors, a drastic increase from the 3,200 visitors last year. This rise in attendance, coupled with the rise in sales from the exhibits, out did the competing folk fair The Metro Show, held a week prior in New York. All this gossip came as great news to Outsider Art Fair’s newest owner Andrew Edlin, who was responsible for the change of location from the New York Puck building, which has been the home of the art fair since its inception back in 1993, to the new location in the heart of Chelsea.

At 40 exhibitors, the Outsider Art Fair packed the former Dia art foundation building to the brim. The art work sold quickly compared to Metro Show’s sales, putting Outsider on top in terms of profit. With six international galleries offering works from multiple artists, it gives a glimpse at different forms of outsider and self-taught artists from around the world.

One of the different and interesting exhibitors offering pieces is Galerie Bourbon-Lally an art group from Haiti. Many of the Pieces from Galerie Bourbon-Lally offer contemporary looks into modern Haiti and the culture of being an outsider there. Many paintings offer surreal looks at one’s self or different take on old fables, such as Gerard Fortune’s paintings of bass playing mermaids in fields of flowers. Other Haitian artists in the Outsider Fair exhibit the surreal sculptor known simply as Rico, creating figures from broken toys strung together with wires and available material creating a look reminiscent of childhood nightmares. Japanese exhibitor Yukiko Koide was also in attendance and offered their distinct collection of outsider art.

Some pieces such as a calendar collected from debris of the Hiroshima bombing were distinctively Japanese. Other similar pieces by their American artists Dan Miller, who was diagnosed with autism, create incredible black and white pieces based on language and his comprehension of it. Typically, Millers work typically consists of him writing people’s names over and over in distinct way creating huge pieces covering them with inversions of the names and alphabet.

The exhibitors that the fair offers this year give more diverse art to display and sell with all the international exhibits and artists in attendance. The art is not the only thing offered by the Outsider Art fair—multiple panels have been arranged by greats in the outsider art community.

Both artist and critic come together in many of the panels. Multiple discussions are held daily during the Art Fair. Curators of major outsider, folk art, and art brut exhibits will be in attendance and offering their expertise on the pieces on offer while also offering their thoughts on the state of these genres of art during the major panel entitled “A Bridge Between Art Worlds.”

Daniel Baumann, curator of multiple exhibits both nationally and aboard, Massimiliano Gioni, head of exhibitions at the New Museum, and Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery and many more, will all be in a single end of show panel. They will be discussing the pieces on offer at the show along with a talk on the past, present, and future of the genres of art displayed and auctioned during the Outsider Art Show.