Monday, March 17, 2008


abcd la galerie is a hidden pleasure. Tucked away in Montreuil, abcd galerie is devoted to Art Brut and it boasts one of the best collections in the world, including works by artists Henry Darger, Adolf Wolfli, Aurie Ramirez, Dan Miller, Jakic Vojislav, and Jaime Fernandes. The 20+ minute metro ride to the galerie is fully worth it. It's a beautiful, welcoming space, and the owner is usually onsite and very helpful with any questions. There is also a small screening room to show some of the films on artists they have produced.

Art Brut, or Outsider Art in English, was a term coined by French artist Jean Dubuffet to refer to art made outside the boundaries of "normal" society. Essentially this refers to artists with mental handicaps, as well as to artists working in prison, who are illiterate, or who are totally uneducated. Typically these people are making art out of a purely intuitive and almost obsessive need. Speaking recently to Tom di Maria, the director of Creative Growth Center in Oakland, California, a center which supports over 150 mentally disabled people to make art at their center, (and who are also opening a gallery in the 10th arrondisement in late Spring!), he discussed how some of these artists who cannot even make a sandwich for themselves are creating incredibly layered, rich and important works of art. It's an unexplainable situation really, the why do they do it factor, but it is truly an engaging field in the art world, which is only growing stronger thanks to such institutions like Creative Growth, and fantastic collectors like abcd galerie.

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