Curated by Paul Laster, An Alternative Canon at Andrew Edlin Gallery features nearly seventy-five artworks lent by more than thirty dealers, including a work by Julian Martin belonging to Shelley Farmer.
Following in the footsteps of such pioneering art dealers as Phyllis Kind (1933-2018) and Sidney Janis (1896-1989), more and more contemporary galleries are now exhibiting Outsider Art. Kind championed both contemporary art and the work of self-taught artists at her galleries in Chicago and New York, and Janis, who represented twentieth-century giants like Pollock, De Kooning, Rothko and Guston, brought attention to American “primitive” painters like John Kane and Morris Hirshfield in his seminal 1942 book They Taught Themselves. Today’s dealers and gallery directors are also adding works by untrained artists to their personal collections.
Over the past year alone, three solo exhibitions for important Outsider artists have opened at contemporary galleries in New York. David Zwirner held a show of drawings by Bill Traylor (1853-1949), who was the subject of a major retrospective at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. in 2018 and at the American Folk Art Museum in New York in 2013. Venus Over Manhattan showed works by Joseph Yoakum (1890-1972), who had a one-person show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972 and has a forthcoming solo exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, which travels to the Menil Collection and the Museum of Modern Art. Barbara Gladstone is currently exhibiting the drawings of the late Chinese outsider, Guo Fengyi (1942-2010), whose one-person exhibition To See from a Distance was held at the Drawing Center earlier this year.
The concept for this show grew out of the tremendous response to the exhibition at the New York Outsider Art Fair in January, Relishing the Raw: Contemporary Artists Collecting Outsider Art, which was also curated by Paul Laster.