The 4 Most Amazing Influential Outsider Artists of All Time

Written by Michelle Montoro, Modified April 10, 2019
Influential Outsider Artists

When it comes to what is commonly considered ‘mainstream art,’ most people believe that getting featured in regular exhibitions requires access to vast amounts of capital investment. For their work to reach a wider audience, and find its way onto museum walls, people generally expect an artist to have attended a prestigious art school and have a strong educational and economic background.

Artists who don’t have access to the capital or educational background to ‘make it’ in the art world often find their work is subject to an increased amount of scrutiny and skepticism. Referred to under the umbrella term ‘the outsider artist,’ these people can be seen as reckless and rebellious. But, above all, they are self-taught, while also transcending the so-called ‘rules’ of the trade. The only recourse for the outsider artist is to thrive on public attention and notoriety.

To pay homage to great works of art from outsider artists, OtherLinks has assembled a list of the most influential figures in the space.

1. Miroslav Tichy
This Czech born artist is famously known for using his makeshift camera to snap pictures of unsuspecting women. As sinister as this may sound, there was no ill intent behind the project. The photographs tell a compelling narrative focused heavily on his homeland, which was thrown into chaos due to political instability.
Miroslav and his work would have continued to remain in obscurity if not for his friend Roman Buxbaum. His untiring efforts riled up public interest in the project and the eventual fame that came along with it.

2. Henry Darger
Henry worked as a hospital custodian, but his passions lied elsewhere. He would create beautiful pieces of art in secrecy. Over the years, he created a collection of hundreds of watercolor paintings. Henry’s work is famously known for depicting young girls against the backdrop of ongoing warfare. His paintings tell a frightening tale, usually left in the wake of unchecked aggression on the defenseless.

3. Judith Scott
Judith was born with Down’s Syndrome and was told by doctors that her lifespan would be very limited. She spent over 35 years in a state institution, and it wasn’t until her sister became her legal guardian that Judith discovered her immense talent for art. A fiber art class at Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland helped Judith maneuver around her disabilities. The result? Work that is appreciated to this day by the creative art community.

4. Marty T. Smith
Born to a low-income family with twelve other children, Marty suffered from a hearing impediment that went mostly untreated. As a result, she found solace in painting, which she took up after her retirement. Marty would spend countless hours turning her home into what she described as a ‘public form of spiritual autobiography.’ Avid art collectors have loved her work, which has a unique art direction. Her paintings often featured themes focused on African origins. Marty’s work is compared often with Jean Michel Basquiat, known primarily for his graffiti work.

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