Friday, August 18, 2017

Creativity in its purest form at Art Brut in Lausanne

Henri Rousseau was a prolific "naive artist" who specialized in
African scenes  (

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND  There are several names for an artistic genre categorized at "Naive Art." Others call it "Outsider Art" or "Primitive Art." Whatever term you give it, as William Shakespeare wrote, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.," the world of "Naive Art" is creativity in its purest form.
Naive artists use materials that are readily available
In case you are not aware of this particular artistic genre, it is defined as "any form of visual art created by a person who lacks the formal education and training that a professional artist undergoes (in anatomy, art history, technique, ways of seeing)."
Perhaps the best known artist to most of us in this type of art is Grandma Moses, but there are others such as Henri Rousseau and Alfred Wallis who have had even greater impact on the genre. In fact, "Naive Art" is now a fully recognized artistic medium which is represented in art galleries throughout the world.
Exterior of Art Brut
One of the first to recognize the "purity" of Outsider Art was Jean Dubuffet who opened the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1976. While Outsider Art is today regarded as a legitimate art form, Art Brut remains one of the few museums in the world that is totally dedicated to the medium.
Some patrons might view the exhibitions as dark or moody because the works have been created by people who are "criminally insane, delusional or secluded and marginalized." This IS NOT the intent that Dubuffet had in mind when he opened his gallery however.
Seashell face at Art Brut  (
Rather his purpose was meant to endorse art collections by people who had otherwise been sheltered from outside influences allowing them the freedom to create from their purest instincts. Hence the name "Naive Art."
Visitors who make their way through the four-story Art Brut Collection comprised of both permanent and traveling exhibitions, get a far more greater understanding of the positive motivations of the artists if they enter with an open mind.
"Repast of the Lion" by
Henri Rousseau (
In some ways the art reminds us of the mathematical savant Raymond Babbit who was so masterfully portrayed by Dustin Hoffman in the film "Rainman." The only difference being that many of these "outside" artists use the creative segment of their brains rather than the portion used for calculations.
Typically the art is colorful and almost childlike in its quality but there is also something wholesome and unique that beckons viewers to draw closer, often  in ways that their more famous professional counterparts are not able to accomplish.
Art Brut is more intriguing the more you explore (wikipedia,org)
There is almost an elementary school perspective that is unique in its own way. Collections are eccentric and diverse incorporating objects that are frequently readily available in a particular artist's personal environment; crushed flowers, toothpaste or sea shells for example.
Everywhere you look at Art Brut, something catches your eye  (
In fact, there are some who would say the "untrained" artists are better at their craft than many of the highly-paid well-recognized painters and sculptors who frequently leave patrons befuddled at what they are attempting to achieve.
It is this aspect of Collection de l'Art Brut which makes it so special. It is art created purely from the primal need by the artist(s) to express themselves.
Wooden horse from Collection de l'Art Brut
The collections in Art Brut, which means literally translates to "Collection of Outsider Art," is arranged in groupings by each artist with a brief biography that unfolds their particular talents directly in front of the viewer.
If patrons are apprehensive at first, they usually are intrigued the further they delve into the variety and diversity of artistic skills that are displayed. This is a museum that builds upon itself and grows with the people who dare to explore the emotions of the creations.
"The Waterfall" has a feeling of serenity with its pastel colors (
As one critic put it, Art Brut is a place "where the art is almost screaming at you." It's an undeniable statement for sure, but one which, in the end, contains a powerful message that is both positive and emotional.
In its own way, Collection de l'Brut often touches us in a more personal way than traditional art is able to accomplish.
"Primitive Art", which also a better description of the genre than "naive art", is frequently applied to the medium by academia who distinguish these creations as being similar to "tribal" contributions such as wall paintings or primitive carvings.
Art Brut's version of a Trojan Horse  (wikipedia)
Most experts agree that naive art was more or less "discovered" around 1885 when artist Paul Signac noticed the prolific contributions of Henri Rousseau. Signac was intrigued enough to begin arranging exhibitions of Rousseau's work at several prestigious galleries.
But whether you call it "Naive" or "Primitive" or "Outsider" or just plain "Folk Art" this exciting genre of expression is something that each of us can relate to in our own individual way.
Collection de l'Art Brut is limited only by the ability of the imagination to create  (
The Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland is a good place to begin. In fact, it may even become an inspiration for your own "naivete."