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Open today: 10:00 to 5:00

Outliers and American Vanguard Art
January 28 – May 13, 2018
East Building, Concourse Galleries

Horace Pippin, Interior, 1944, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Meyer P. Potamkin, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art

Self-taught artists—variously termed folk, primitive, visionary, naïve, and outsider—have played a significant role in the history of modernism, yet their contributions have been largely disregarded or forgotten. Again and again in the United States during the past century, vanguard artists found affinities and inspiration in the work of their untutored, marginalized peers and became staunch advocates, embracing them as fellow artists. Though this encouraged museums to bring their work to broad public view, institutions that complied usually did so without contesting the divide between those at the center (including the vanguard) and those on its periphery (including the autodidact).

Outliers and American Vanguard Art focuses on three periods over the last century when the intersection of self-taught artists with the mainstream has been at its most fertile. It is the first major exhibition to explore how those key moments, which coincided with periods of American social, political, and cultural upheaval, challenged or erased traditional hierarchies and probed prevailing assumptions about creativity, artistic practice, and the role of the artist in contemporary culture. Bringing together some 250 works in a range of media, the exhibition includes more than 80 schooled and unschooled artists and argues for a more diverse and inclusive representation in cultural institutions and cultural history.


Organization: The exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sponsors: The exhibition is made possible by a generous gift from the Smith-Kogod Family.

Passes: Admission is always free and passes are not required

Other venues: High Museum of Art, Atlanta, June 24–September 30, 2018
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, November 18, 2018–March 18, 2019

Related Resource

Related Events

Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series
Zoe Leonard
January 28, 2018, 2:00
East Building Auditorium

January 28, 2018, 3:30
West Building, West Garden Court

Film Series
Avant-Garde to Underground: Outliers and Film, Part One
Various times
February 3-March 16, 2018
East Building Auditorium

Public Symposia
Boundary Trouble: The Self-Taught Artist and American Avant-Gardes
February 16, 2:00 to 5:00
February 17, 10:00 to 5:00
East Building Auditorium

Audio and Video

Introduction to the Exhibition-Outliers and American Vanguard Art
Video, Released: February 20, 2018, (64:04 minutes)
Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series: Zoe Leonard
Video, Released: February 13, 2018, (46:54 minutes)
Introduction to the Exhibition-Outliers and American Vanguard Art
Audio, Released: February 6, 2018, (64:04 minutes)
Lonnie Holley
Video, Released: January 23, 2018, (18:47 minutes)
Press Event: Michel Sittow: Estonian Painter at the Courts of Renaissance Europe and Outliers and American Vanguard Art
Audio, Released: January 23, 2018, (37:12 minutes)