At midday Thursday, January 17, the 27thedition of The Outsider Art Fair kicked off with a bang.
Crowds swarmed at The Metropolitan Pavilion to catch the latest ‘Outsider Artists,’ a term coined in 1972 by art historian Roger Cardinal to identify artists who have not been conditioned by art history and art trends. During the last two decades, Outsider Art has developed thanks to experimental curators and art dealers. All of these curators and dealers got to show off their artists in a maze of stands. A true feast for the eyes.
This year’s art fair is a tribute to Phyllis Kind, a founding participant of the Outsider Art Fair from the first year it was founded in 1993. Originally a New York Artist, her and her husband moved to Chicago where they discovered the next Outsider Artists, including Jim Nutt, Gladys Nilsson, Art Green, and Karl Wirsum, and showed them in her gallery. Roberta Smith of The New York Times comments, “In a sense, these artists were outsider Pop artists; not surprisingly they were deeply attracted to the work of the real outsiders then beginning to surface.” Kind was the first to display Outsider Artists next to trained contemporary artists.
The art fair was set up in a maze of white booths of art curators and galleries showcasing their artists. There was art in every medium imaginable: pottery, photography, oil painting, furniture, even a glass vitrine full of different prison shivs. An overwhelming delight for the eyes as the viewer took in all sorts of visual stimuli. One of the largest booths was Good Kids: Underground Comics from China. Organized and co-curated by Brett Littman Yi Zhou, one could spend hours looking at the images due to the sheer amount of them. These works hardly sell in mainland China as the subjects of these various images are sexual, puerile, anti-conformist and scatological. This booth highlights Chinese independent comics and their struggle to become known.
Another highlight of the fair involves a celebrity artist, the man, the myth, the legend, Jim Carey. The actor/artist joined the fair for the first time this year after his successful presentation of his work in Los Angeles. Carrey’s political cartoons channel his frustration and disappointment in US politics. Many of his cartoons feature President Trump and other political figures imbued with tragic humor that echoes his response to the controversial election and his views on the current political climate.
These two artists are just a sampling of the many talented artists that were on display from January 17-20. We look forward to what amazing talent The Outsider Art Fair graces us with next year.