What is this weird amateurish painting style?
December 16, 2015 7:28 AM   Subscribe

There's a style of painting that seems to be very au courant right now, at least in New York. The paintings look -- I'm not sure how else to say it -- very amateurish. Like someone without any training taking an earnest shot at making a painting for the first time. What's the deal with this style? Does it have a name? Where can I find out more about it?

I first noticed it at the MoMA PS1 exhibit of Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, called "Fine Arts." I didn't think much of it because the whole exhibit was sort of a parody of a gallery exhibit, so the amateurish paintings made sense. Then I took a stroll around the Chelsea galleries, and noticed at least three more exhibits featuring the same style. Two months later, I took another stroll around the Chelsea galleries, and there were probably four or five more exhibits featuring this style. Other examples include Keith Mayerson's "My American Dream" and Shaun Ellison's "Islanders." Critics say things like, "sincere and versatile, if sometimes awkward," "loose generalizing strokes of tones," "a perverse caricature," but I can't find anything about whether this style is associated with a discrete school of art or whether it can be traced back to any particular painter(s). (David Hockney maybe?)
posted by Dr. Send to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Naive art?
posted by Kitteh at 7:32 AM on December 16, 2015 [4 favorites]

Both of the artists you mention have somewhat of an "Outsider Art" style. Similar to Naive. Basically it means art by artists who did not have a mainstream art education or who operate outside the mainstream artistic culture. But both of these artists are academically trained as artists, so that doesn't describe them. They may have a outsider style but they are not outsiders.
posted by beagle at 8:32 AM on December 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

Bad Painting?
posted by effluvia at 8:48 AM on December 16, 2015

i call them "good bad art"
posted by PinkMoose at 10:23 AM on December 16, 2015

"Fine Arts" just looks like a typical New Yorker cover. The composition and perspective are sort of masterly, I think. Technique sort of light and breezy, not really offensive or immature. A cartoon. It is what it is?
posted by Chitownfats at 12:01 PM on December 16, 2015

Naive Art. There'a lot of museums that exhibit the style, sometimes painted by patients in mental health institutions.
posted by chrisinseoul at 9:42 PM on December 16, 2015

Yes, it's called Naïve Painting when it's done by somebody without formal training, Outsider Art when the artist is socially excluded.
posted by tel3path at 10:54 PM on December 16, 2015

Oh, and agreed that the first one was obviously done by someone who knew what they were doing.
posted by tel3path at 10:55 PM on December 16, 2015

Augh. I stand corrected. Naïve art can be done with formal training, it's outsider art that's defined by a lack of formal training.
posted by tel3path at 11:03 PM on December 16, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks y'all. Naive art seems like an appropriate term for this stuff. This is definitely not outsider art. For the record, just because I called it amateurish doesn't mean I don't like it! For instance, I LOVE this dog painting by Keith Mayerson.
posted by Dr. Send at 3:06 PM on December 18, 2015

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