Outsider Art or brut art coined by the French painter Dubuffet around 1950 is a term lacking consensus or a precise definition. Generally it is considered a genre of works produced by people who for various reasons may be described as on the fringe of society & not indoctrinated to the conventions of the world of art schools, galleries, or museums. The creators produce their work from the depths of their souls, emotions & perceptions. Unfiltered by convention or the need to sell their work they are often very creative, expressive & unique pieces.
The original label referred mainly to persons who were imprisoned, institutionalized, mentally or physically challenged.
One such artist was Martin Ramirez (1895 - 1963). Born in Mexico later crossing the border to California he spent many years institutionalized in hospitals as a mental patient. In the 15 years before his death he produced a series of over 300 drawings, many of which have been featured in art galleries & museums.
Folk art or na´ve art suggests functional & decorative art forms by "ordinary" people not formally trained as artists but self-taught. The term primitive is also linked to this genre.
This still life painting by a young girl, lacking in training as witnessed by the lack of perspective will remain with its owner & creator, yours truly. The other is by Grandma Moses, a farmer's wife who took up painting in her late 70s.
Often the designs and techniques stem from shared cultural traditions & folklore, yet individually expressed. The quilting tradition of Gee's Bend, Alabama dates back to the 19th century when the community was the site of a cotton plantation owned by Joseph Gee. Influenced in part by lively African textiles, slave women sewed together strips of cloth to make bed covers. A distinctive style of boldness in pattern, geometry & color continued to develop. This one by Annie Pearl Thompson in the 1970s is currently selling for $4800.
Tramp Art is a particular form of folk art introduced in the early 1860s in America by German & Scandinavian migrant (itinerant) wood carvers. Chip carving, whittling & other techniques were employed, often with just a pocket knife, to transform used objects, mostly discarded cigar boxes, into accessories & furniture. Noted collector and author on the subject Clifford A. Wallach exhibits regularly at antique shows throughout the U.S.
Currey & Co. recently introduced their tramp art-inspired furniture line such as this console.
A key distinction between folk & outsider art is that folk art typically embodies traditional forms & social values, where outsider art stands in a marginal relationship to society's mainstream. Both are selling like hot cakes!