The New Arts Foundation

mental health awareness
empowering the Outsider.


The New Arts Foundation advocates for a broad understanding of Outsider Art. We get behind untested, underrepresented creatives who exist and grow outside the mainstream. Without conventional influence, these creatives have fresh perspectives and unique patterns of innovation and experimentation. However — as Outsiders — more conventional modes of support are not available. Galleries, studios, and production companies shy away from their art because it doesn’t have an established audience. No one ever sees it.

It’s our job to expand opportunities for these creatives, and make their work accessible to a wider audience, allowing the artist and the community to grow, at once.

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré,   Divine painting on the skin of an orange depicting a heart (love) and a bracelet (marriage),  2007.

Frédéric Bruly Bouabré, Divine painting on the skin of an orange depicting a heart (love) and a bracelet (marriage), 2007.

Outsider Art can be traced back thousands of years. Its modern roots, however, stem from the conception of art brut (Raw Art) as articulated by French artist Jean Dubuffet. In his 1947 manifesto, Dubuffet characterized art brut as: "Those works created from pure and authentic creative impulses – where the worries of competition, acclaim, and social promotion do not interfere… These artists derive everything...from their own depths, and not from the conventions of classical or fashionable art."

Twenty-five years later, art critic Roger Cardinal introduced the term Outsider Art as a synonym for art brut, contextualizing it as: “The critical definition of the creative Outsider is that he or she should be possessed of an expressive impulse and should then externalize that impulse in an unmonitored way which defies conventional art-historical contextualization.”

Since Dubuffet and Cardinal primarily took interest in unusually marginalized artists — psychotics, mediums, and eccentrics — there exists a common misbelief that Outsider Art is essentially pathological, or is confined to those in extreme mental states or with unconventional ideas.

This is not the case. Outsiders are not exclusive. The central characteristic shared by Outsiders is simply the lack of conditioning by art history and trend. Artists who pursue raw creativity and expression stem from all walks of life, from all cultures, from all age groups.

Ken Grimes ,  Untitled, Probe Series (Energy Requirements) , 2009.

Ken Grimes, Untitled, Probe Series (Energy Requirements), 2009.

Guo Fengyi,   Untitled , n.d.

Guo Fengyi, Untitled, n.d.

The New Arts Foundation believes growth and interest in Outsider Art is ripe for a surge, and for good reason. We are driven by the stasis of today’s art landscape, which is effectively a step-and-repeat of commodified fine art, film, design, and music. The reality of mainstream art hasn’t changed much since Dubuffet’s manifesto, in which he remarked that: “Everyone immediately sprinkles it with champagne, and lecturers lead it from town to town with a ring through its nose. This is the false Monsieur Art.”

By supporting Outsiders who offer ambitious, underrepresented, fresh perspectives, The New Arts Foundation aims to change the narrative about what defines art, and to break down the wall that defines who can make it. We hope to endow communities with art that speaks with clarity and relevance on the human experience. The goal is art for community.

© 2019 The New Arts Foundation