Influenced by Art Brut, Outsider Art and Folk Art

Pretty Ugly, on Exhibit at James Gallery through November 2nd, addresses the concept of beauty and ugliness through the Contemporary figurative art forms influenced by art brut, outsider art and folk art. Existing outside the cultural norm of ‘fine art’, they open up the conversation - is it pretty, is it ugly, or is it pretty ugly? Does beauty exist on its own or is it created by the observer under the influence of cultural and historic specifications? Can the relationship of pretty and ugly be turned depending on the point of view?

James Gallery Pretty Ugly Exhibit Artists

ART BRUT... What?

Coined by French painter, sculptor and assemblage artist Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985), "Art Brut" describes works created by those outside the academic tradition of fine art, allowing artistic freedom from cultural manipulation or influence. Dubuffet penned his Art Brut Manifesto in 1947, writing:

"We understand by this term works produced by persons unscathed by artistic culture, where mimicry plays little or no part… These artists derive everything from their own depths, and not from the conventions of classical or fashionable art. We are witness here to the completely pure artistic operation, raw, brute, and entirely reinvented in all of its phases solely by means of the artists’ own impulses."

The term "outsider" art was introduced in the early 1970s as synonymous to "art brut." The movement continued to expand in scope to include a wide range of "marginal" arts including graffiti, primitive art and contemporary folk art. 

Art Brut allows the individual's experience with a piece to drive its perceived beauty or ugliness. What one culture finds beautiful, another may find unattractive. What is perceived as ugly is often far more complex and challenging than what is pretty.

"Beauty belongs to the sphere of the simple, the ordinary, whilst ugliness is something extraordinary, and there is no question but that every ardent imagination prefers in lubricity, the extraordinary to the commonplace." ~.A.F. Marquis de Sade, The 120 Days of Sodom and Other Writings


Click below to add to your calendar. 

The exhibit runs through Saturday, November 2nd. Keep your eyes, masked or otherwise, on our social media for an exciting event to close out the show. ;)