L’Art Brut: Raw art. Art made by rebels, criminals, psychopaths, loners, misfits. People who don’t care about what the outside world thinks about their art, people who never went to art school, and make interesting works of art.
I know what some of you are thinking–“Oh I make raw art, I’m an artist who doesn’t care what people think, and I don’t go to art school.” I am just going to stop you there.
Since the beginning of time, there has been a debate about “what is art?” There is classic textbook painters like Monet, Degas…the list goes on, then there is contemporary art which (to me) seems like a bunch of people getting together saying “Wouldn’t it be edgy if we did this?” and then making it happen. Both are art, because they mean something to someone.
L’art brut is neither–it wouldn’t be contemporary art, but it’s not something art students want to re-create either.
Blackstock is an American who must classify everything. He labels it at the top of the canvas, for example, “WORLD’S TALLEST BUILDINGS” and then draws and colors various monuments like the Eiffel Tower, Leaning tower of Pisa, and so on. In this museum, there was a whole room of Blackstock paintings of various types of things. I almost felt like I was intruding on his mind, looking at all these OCD lists.
His art is actually one of the normal ones in the museum. One artist that spent his life in a mental hospital in Italy actually made art by carving words into the wall of the mental hospital with his vest buckle. Another actually made up a love life for herself in her head and drew pictures of her life like it was a fairytale. Another artist drew huge paintings on rice paper of children, but then made a story about the children being blown up, strangled, turning into butterflies, etc. (That one actually creeped me out the most–It was really pretty art, the type you would see in a children’s book, but it had these awful themes that made your mind reach into the darkest levels of your imagination.)
One more interesting story–one man claimed that when he finished his 300th painting, World War II would end. That turned out to be the case.
This museum is a must-see in Lausanne for adults. It is art that is off the beaten path and the museum itself is dark and small, allowing the visitors to encounter the artistic journey that these deranged people take. I was not surprised by most of the artwork–I actually thought it would be more graphic, knowing the background of the collection. But this is really good art. It’s precise, it’s visual, it’s impossible to re-create. It’s art that makes you feel like you just watched a horror movie alone, and you are sitting in your dark basement on a Friday night with the credits rolling and the horror music engulfing you. You made this happen–you watched the film, the characters were killed. What if you hadn’t watched it? No one would have been killed. I saw the art–these artists went insane.
Why did these crazy people make art? Was it therapeutic? Was it in their mind? Was it to tell their story?