Five Tips For Appreciating The Outsider Art Fair

Above work by Judy A. Saslow

Perennial art world bad boy, the Outsider Art Fairbrings its assemblage of wobbly, slightly-demented art and artists to far West 22nd street this weekend, with a thoroughly refreshing and perception-altering collection of creations that makes the celebrity art fairs look like so much bourgeois vanity.

Generally speaking, an outsider artist is one with little or no formal art education; and indeed a casual poll of select galleries here uncovered few—erm, actually no—Yale M.F.A. graduates. Further discussion revealed that outsider artists typically do not create with the thought that they’re making art, but do it as a necessary exorcism in the quest to quiet the soul. That said, it’s no surprise that you’ll find a higher percentage of oddballs, shut-ins, and manic / medicated (not in the fun way) artists here than you will at SCOPE.


Een Nieuwe Wind

The fair, organized by Wide Open Arts, runs through Sunday at Center 548, the old Dia space at 548 W. 22nd st, and you can get more info here ( Here are our five tips for a truly transformative experience.

Don’t be intimidated. Its three manageable floors mean you can see everything twice and still have energy for a shopping stop at Comme Des Garcons down the street afterwards.

Linger at each booth. Most show multiple artists, each worth your time.



Talk to the bootherinas. The stories ABOUT the artists are as compelling as the art.

Find the three recently discovered works by Aleister Crowley (hint, 4th fl), an original outsider and committed occultist whose devotees included Ozzy and Jimmy Page. Miiiister Crowwwwley!

Brush up on your accents. It’s a global show with galleries from Haiti, Italy, Brazil, and more; but the US dominates the iconoclasm, with over half the contributors.



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