What is Art Brut?

It is self-taught creators who produce Art Brut, people on the fringes of society who harbor a spirit of rebellion and tend to be impervious to collective standards and values. They create in total disregard of public acclaim or other people's opinions. They seek neither recognition by others nor public acclaim: any universe that they create is meant exclusively for themselves. Using generally unprecedented means and materials, they are in no way obligated to any artistic traditions, preferring to avail themselves of highly singular figurative means.
The concept of Art Brut stems from the French painter Jean Dubuffet who, from 1945, assembled a collection of objects created by the inmates of various psychiatric hospitals and prisons—solitary or outcast persons. In their creations, he saw "an entirely pure, raw artistic operation that the creator fully reinvents in all its phases , as spurred uniquely by his own impulses." The idea of Art Brut is thus based on certain social characteristics and aesthetic peculiarities.

Definition of Art Brut by Jean Dubuffet

"By this [Art Brut] we mean pieces of work executed by people untouched by artistic culture, in which therefore mimicry, contrary to what happens in intellectuals, plays little or no part, so that their authors draw everything (subjects, choice of materials employed, means of transposition, rhythms, ways of writing, etc.) from their own depths and not from clichés of classical art or art that is fashionable. Here we are witnessing an artistic operation that is completely pure, raw, reinvented in all its phases by its author, based solely on his own impulses. Art, therefore, in which is manifested the sole function of invention, and not those, constantly seen in cultural art, of the chameleon and the monkey."
Excerpted from Jean Dubuffet L’art brut préféré aux arts culturels, Galerie René Drouin, Paris, 1949.

Bibliography on Art Brut - A selection proposed by the Collection de l'Art Brut.