The Outsider Art Fair is back for the third year at Center 548, the clean and well-lit former New York home of DIA. The show, now in its 23rd edition, used to run at the funky Puck Building across town, and is larger than ever under the direction of Andrew Edlin.
The owner of the eponymous Chelsea gallery, which represents Thornton Dial and Henry Darger among other “outsiders,” purchased the fair in 2012, with the aim of bringing more self-taught and non-academic art to an interested audience.
In a recent interview he said, “More than ever contemporary collectors are buying outsider art,” he said, naming well-known artists such as Darger, Martin Ramirez, Grandma Moses, and James Castle, adding Augustin Lesage, a French artist from the late 1920s, a work of whose sold for $519,238 last year at auction, according to Artnet.
Larry Lewis, Untitled (Woman with Urn), c. 1970. Courtesy FRED.GIAMPIETRO Gallery, at this year's Outsider Art Fair
But the fair is also a draw for younger art-lovers who are not necessarily collectors. Edlin continued, “I think in general people respond to how fresh the work is,” he said, “and that’s to a large degree because it’s not derivative. All contemporary art is based on, or certainly informed by, art historical references. The fact that these artists are not working in that continuum—most of the times the audience isn’t even in the equation when these [outsider] artists are making the work—that’s why the work is so radically individualistic, over anything else you see at any art fair, and right when you walk in.”