Susanne Mull

At Home in This Place

Describing her studio, Mull says, “It’s a little bit similar to Adolph Menzel’s Balcony Room.” The 1845 German painting readily evokes the artist’s serene, sun-filled space with tall ceilings and French doors opening to a balcony. Mull’s home—a top-heavy 19th-century building with a Mansard roof—keeps her connected to the past. So, too, does the region of Rheinhessen in which she lives. This area was a stomping ground for the German Romantics...
Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY

Take Me to the Moon: Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas was the first African-American woman to be featured in the White House art collection, the first African-American woman to have a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the first person to graduate from Howard University with a degree in Fine Art. During her life, she never fit into a certain artistic category, and the problem still stands of whether she belongs on the ‘outside’ or ‘inside’ of twentieth century art.
Christian Berst Art Brut / Ampersand Gallery

Joyful Voyeur: John Kayser's Playfully Intimate Photography

After John Kayser’s death in 2007, stacks of home-developed black and white photographs and cheap drugstore prints surfaced among his personal effects. Kayser’s oeuvre could easily have ended up as pornographic curios in a California garage sale. Yet something differentiates his work from clichéd amateur erotica or mere smut. In part, it is his vision of femininity. It is also the fact that Kayser works with an awareness of his medium. His compositions include inside jokes about the nature of representation or the entanglement of high and low genres.

Hardboiled: Gil Batle’s Debut in New York

West 20th Street has one of the highest concentrations of art galleries in Manhattan. On a cool, misty November evening, most windows were brightly lit. The only dark spot was the former Bayview Correctional Facility on the corner of 11th Avenue, whose solid brick walls guard its hidden past. That evening, Gil Batle’s debut show, "Hatched in Prison," opened at the Ricco Maresca Gallery across the street from Bayview.
Andrew Edlin Gallery

Imagined Spaces at the 2017 Outsider Art Fair

It is the last day of the 2017 Outsider Art Fair. With sixty-two exhibitors, this is the event’s biggest iteration so far. As we wander around the Metropolitan Pavilion, pushed along by the crowds, the exhibitors’ booths reveal their treasures: Domenico Zindato’s rhythmic patterns and Hiroyuki Doi’s circles. M’onma‘s nightmarish clown masks and Gil Batle’s carved eggshells. A brochure for the fair invites us to see our visit as a “road trip” across the United States and beyond.
Peabody Essex Mus./ Kathy Tarantola/ Folk Art Mus.

Securing the Shadow: The Folk Art Museum Chronicles Death in Early America

Artists began to specialize in the miracle of re-animating a corpse and depicting the dead as they once were. In the exhibition, painting after painting shows deceased children smiling serenely, playing with toys and pets, and reunited with their brothers and sisters. The artworks’ subjects are eternally present to their families, suspended in a realm between that of the living and the dead. These attempts to both acknowledge and defy death could lead to difficult emotions.
Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio

Collecting a Human Experience at The Keeper

Discarded pieces of gum are placed side-by-side with photographs documenting the structure of snowflakes. You can see Holocaust memorabilia, rock crystals, antique vessels, Alabama quilts, and architectural models of an imaginary European city. What brings these objects together is a meta-exhibition dedicated to the act of collecting itself. The project is so ambitious and vast in scope that it threatens to unravel into disorder.

Drawing Circles: Hiroyuki Doi Wants You to Know That You Can Make Art

Hiroyuki Doi’s first drawing workshop in the United States is held in the Folk Art Museum’s Collections and Education Center, on a narrow industrial street in Long Island City, Queens. The street is lined with factories -- I sense the hum of machinery and the faint smell of acetone. I find the number and ring a bell. I enter a dimly lit space. Quilts by American folk artists hang on the walls. Doi is sitting at the far end of the room in semi-darkness, with his sunglasses on.
Marie Finaz Gallery

Warmth and Feeling at the Outsider Art Fair

The Outsider Art Fair has arrived, and some of the best the field has to offer is currently on display in the Metropolitan Pavilion. This annual convention has existed for over two decades. In recent years, however, it has grown exponentially. Since its acquisition in 2012 by Andrew Edlin (of the eponymous gallery), the event’s profile has continued to rise, attracting new gallerists and visitors. Why is “outsider art” so popular? Ariel Willmott, the director of the Fountain House Gallery, offered a blunt assessment: “People are sick of cold and detached artwork. They want to feel something.”
Collection de l’Art Brut/ Olivier Laffley/ Folk Art Museum

May Red Shoes Blaze the Trail: Reflections on an Art Brut Retrospective

For the past one hundred years, European artists have been fascinated with the idea of the “primitive” ̶ an individual who exists outside modern society, untainted by the industrial revolution. Gauguin ventured to Tahiti and painted portraits of the natives. A destitute Van Gogh went to small villages in the French countryside and painted the peasants. Picasso, on the other hand, went to the Trocadero, the ethnographic museum in Paris, and reportedly experienced a revelation about a new kind of art while looking at African masks. While the reference to Picasso in the exhibition is intended to show outsider art's reputable origins, in fact it evokes a troubled history.
Domenico Zindato

Vision Quest: The Art of Domenico Zindato

In 1988, Domenico Zindato was looking for a place where he could fit in. West Berlin offered such a place. The walled-in city was the global capital of drifters, dropouts, and avant-garde visionaries: a haven where “with very little, you could find what you were looking for and do whatever you liked.” Zindato felt “immediately accepted.” He got involved in the city’s nightlife, making sets and decor for parties. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, semi-legal raves took over vacated buildings...
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