Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists

Yale Univ. Apr. 2022. 400p. ISBN 9780300260229. $45. FINE ARTS
Some art experts may quibble at the designation of “nonconformer” to describe the artists presented here but will acknowledge that alternative descriptors like “outsider,” “self-taught,” and “folk” are equally problematic. Nomenclature aside, this volume serves as an expansive and thoroughly illustrated introduction to a selection of 65 artists not fully represented in the traditional art historical canon. Editor Slominski is former curator of the London-based Museum of Everything and lecturer at Queen Mary University of London. Introductions to each chapter are provided by nine art historians and experts, providing curatorial context for the artists’ biographies and oeuvres. Slominski is an advocate for recognizing neurodiversity in art and includes multiple artist interviews to allow those voices to be heard. The book’s scope is broad, chronologically and geographically; among its artists are the well-known Grandma Moses and Henry Darger and the less-familiar Mamadou Cissé and Marguerite Sirvins.
VERDICT This useful volume is an important entry point to a more inclusive and accessible art world.
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