The Board of Directors of New York’s Outsider Art Fair has decided to exclude Joe Coleman for exhibiting “an unusual level of awareness of the marketing and sales of his work.” In other words, Coleman is not starving enough to be considered an outsider. The definition of outsider art has always been somewhat up for grabs and in flux, but the board seems almost offended that a so-called “outsider” might figure out how to market their work. God forbid the outsider become famous!
You can sign an an online petition to register contempt for the decision. Or not. I can actually see both sides of this one. Kind of. If “outsider” means outside the art world, and it’s acknowledged that players in the art world are trying to sell their work, then the board may well have a point. On the other hand, Coleman has long been without representation, and has epitomized the outsider in more ways than one.
Image: Joe Coleman