VISIONARY ART is art that purports to transcend the physical world and portray a wider vision of awareness including spiritual or mystical themes, or is based in such experiences.The American Visionary Art Museum defines Visionary art as “….art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.” Stating that visionary art is a product of an inner process, and may not even be thought of as art by its creator; it also differentiates Visionary art from Folk Art.Both trained & self-taught artists have, and continue to create visionary works. Many visionary artists are actively engaged in spiritual practices, drawing inspiration from hallucinogenic intoxication, altered or extreme states of consciousness, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.”Outsider art” is often broadly applied to include certain self-taught or Naïve art makers who were never institutionalized. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions.
A great example is the film, JUNEBUG, Starring Embeth Davidtz as an Outsider Art Gallery Owner who ventures to North Carolina in pursuit of a self-taught painter. The art world, vs the art outsider is explored within the narrative.
————————————————————————————————————————— The Go-To (Living) Artist when it comes to Visionary art is ALEX GREY, these two images are extremely illuminating in terms of the use of symbolism and duplicity. Revealing two very different meanings to the same imagery.
“Known as the ‘PEACE SIGN‘ throughout the 1960’s and into the present day, this symbol is the Teutonic rune of death, also referred to as the “broken cross,” “witch’s foot,” “Nero Cross,” “sign of the ‘broken Jew,'” and the “symbol of the ‘anti-Christ”’) is actually a cross with the arms broken. It also signifies the “gesture of despair,” and the “death of man.”even the most innocent gestures have multiple meanings & coding.
In 2007 the world was marketed the Obama as CHRIST/SAVIOR figure, and his image became the symbol of WORLD UNITY/HOPE/CHANGE etc, exemplified in the sheer amount of OBAMA ART created GLOBALLY, It was something people believed in just like the Hippie Movement. These “Movements” were cleverly engineered and orchestrated narratives, that became defining moments in American History.
It’s fascinating when people see “psychedelic” work without truly understanding the full context of the “psychedelic” movement as a government manufactured spiritual awakening, using LSD as a cultural weapon. Alex Grey came of age during the height of this “counterculture movement” which evolved into the “New Age” umbrella of art, spirituality, and consciousness movement.
In the 1960’s NASA commissioned artists to envision what space exploration to capture the imagination and wonder that technical diagrams and schematics and blueprints could never create. It’s fascinating how our images of the future created over 60 years ago seem to occupy this static space in our collective psyche. When in fact the final frontier isn’t outer space, it’s embracing our creative potential and the unlocking the mysteries of consciousness.Exploring similar themes with different medium. (Spray Paint & Video Camera)CONTEMPORARY ART can be defined variously as art produced at this present point in time or art produced since World War II. The definition of the word contemporary would support the first view, but museums of contemporary art commonly define their collections as consisting of art produced since WWII.Throughout the 20th century and 21st century, with the advent of Modern and the advent of Postmodern art forms, distinctions between what is generally regarded as the fine arts and low arts have started to fade,as contemporary high art continues to challenge these concepts by mixing with popular culture.Since WWII the idea of being completely secluded from the “outside world” and an artist being “disconnected” from society is increasingly rare, as our access to information, and frequency of connectivity allows for instantaneous dissemination of information (From Radio, to Television, to The Internet).
In a world where anyone can turn on a TV and watch an episode of Antiques Roadshow, or Beverly Hills Cop, and within minutes form of understanding of an artist, a critic or appraiser, gallerist, collector and the idea of an art world/market, makes this idea of isolation/ ignorance much less common than in the past. Each generation is defined by its time and technology, even if one chooses to reject them, there is still an awareness of these things on some level.
This instant access to imagery & information can lead to a disconnect with history, as the ability to re-appropriate something with some,little, or no knowledge of its history, symbolism, context, creates a completely new point of reference. Looking forward at the generation referred to as digital natives, children that have access to ipads from as young as 2 or 3, can be creating art digitally, long before they have they ever hold a paintbrush (the primary art making tool for the last few thousand years). What will the Visionary and Outsider Art of the future look like, and will we recognize it when we see it?