The Lingo

image by Canadian artist William Anhang

William Anhang (Canada)

There are many, many terms used to describe outsider art – art that is outside the cultural and artistic norm. Raw Vision magazine has explained the most common terms, and I offer its vocabulary as a starting point:

• Art Brut: Translated from French as “raw art” (i.e., it has not been through the “cooking process” of the art world of school, galleries, museums.

• Folk art: This term usually refers to crafts and decorative arts. When you see bears carved by chain saws and buildings made out of bottles, it’s folk art. Unlike outsider art, folk art embodies traditional forms and social values.

• Intuitive art: Same as outsider art, and a term that Raw Vision editors prefer.

• Marginal art (Art singulier): Art made by those on the margins of the art world.

• Naïve art: Art created by untrained artists who hope to be included in the world of mainstream art. (I call them Sunday painters.)

• Neuve invention: Artists who are marginal, but have some interaction with mainstream culture (e.g., part time artists).

• Visionary art: This term alone refers to the subject matter of the work, which usually includes spiritual or religious images.

• Visionary environments: Visionary artists sometimes build structures and sculptures (e.g., the Watts Towers in Los Angeles).