Show me visionary art!
September 11, 2020 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Before the current unpleasantness, I was all set for a visit to the American Museum of Visionary Art. Well, that didn't work out. But I would still like to see more visionary art, and to learn about its makers. Please share your favorite pieces, exhibitions, etc. and a little bit about the artists. Thanks!

I will look at all kinds of art, and have a particular fondness for textiles. I'm interested in hearing artists talk about what compelled them to make individual pieces, and about how ideas call to them.
posted by MonkeyToes to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Check out this book: Women in Visionary Art. It includes interviews with the artists that go into detail about the pieces themselves as well as inspiration. Also four of my friends are featured in this so I extra recommended it :)

Then after the plague is over, go visit COSM in upstate New York and hang out with Alex and Allyson, who will certainly fill you in on their inspiration and introduce you to new artists.
posted by ananci at 8:27 AM on September 11

Nice rug. the artist's site. h/t messynessychic.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:05 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]

on post, I should have thought to ask: does "visionary art" have a definition? I just posted something I felt was visionary.
posted by j_curiouser at 10:06 AM on September 11

You might enjoy browsing through the catalogues of artists and art from the Collection de l'Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland. I've generally seen Art Brut translated as "outsider art", which I think is closely related to visionary art (possibly a synonym - definitions seem to vary a bit).

You can even (virtually) visit the Collection's current exhibition, Chicago Calling, although I haven't worked out how to read the exhibit labels to find out what's on the walls, so it's perhaps not the best match for your interests!
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:11 AM on September 11 [1 favorite]

does "visionary art" have a definition?

My perception might've been warped by many visits to AVAM shortly after it opened, but for me visionary art is where the art is part of a much larger mystical vision of the artist, perhaps glimpses of a world that they've spent a long time imagining or living in. There might be a fair chunk of outsider art in there, too.

Most of the list of names I can think of right now is very bloke-heavy, but perhaps Maud Lewis qualifies. Despite having what might be considered a desperately unhappy life, her paintings hark back to simple images from a happy childhood. For all the bright unmixed colours and repeated themes (she sold them for a few cents to tourists, and made many copies) there's a very mature artist behind the works. Her kitten pictures positively vibrate with life.
posted by scruss at 1:48 PM on September 11

Outsider art also welcome.
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:29 PM on September 11

Are you familiar with Hilma af Klint? I'm not sure if anyone categorizes her as a "visionary artist" or not, but her work was definitely based on her mystical vision. There was a fantastic show of her paintings at the Guggenheim in NYC a couple of years ago.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 3:15 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]

I'm going to go with Yayoi Kusama, Paul Klee, and Adoph Wolfli. All of them have enormous, complex bodies of art. Also, from AVAM, the woman who collected dryer lint and wove it into bible verses was mind-boggling, if not exactly the kind of work I would make. I can't remember her name, but she's in their permanent collection.
posted by effluvia at 7:35 AM on September 12

If you're interested in outsider artists describing their work, you might be interested in this series of videos from Project Onward, which supports artists with disabilities, many of whom fall into that category.
posted by carrienation at 8:13 AM on September 12

I love the American Visionary Art Museum. So fun! Often very thought provoking! And their gift shop, man alive. What I'm saying is, definitely make time for it when the world rights itself.

You might like the Orange Show, which experience (I've linked you to the parent org, so you can also look at the Beer Can House and maybe some past photos of the Art Car Parade for maximum Houston visionary artiness). The Orange Show is my favorite, though, and it's really just a house that a guy decided to make into an amazing art installation with cheerful mosaics and very, very random sayings.
posted by librarylis at 4:24 PM on September 13 [1 favorite]

Raw Creation: Outsider Art & Beyond is one of the first books I ever bought on the subject, and I still love it.

When in Austin, I used to shop at Yard Dog and still look at what they have often. It's how I find artists I like, and then I can research them.

The Bethany Mission Gallery also tends to feature work and people I'm interested in!

And though it's not outsider/visionary art, I am pretty sure you'll fall in love with my favourite artist, Margaret Kilgallen and her story.
posted by peagood at 6:59 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]

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