All Artists Feel, but Not All Artists Feel Well: The Possibilities of Looking at Literature as Art Brut or Outsider Art

By Kenneth DiMaggio.

Published by The International Journal of the Image

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Paintings, drawings, sculptures, and other mixed media forms created by the mentally ill have long been accepted as legitimate works of art in various degrees. The 20th century French painter Jean Dubuffet was an early champion of such art, extolling it under a movement known as “Art Brut”, but what about texts written by the mentally ill? Vaslav Nijinsky’s diary and Daniel Paul Schreber’s “Memoirs of My Nervous Illness” were both written when their authors were institutionalized or suffering from mental illness; yet, these two texts exist more as objects of curiosity or psychological study. By looking at these two texts, I will try to see if theories and criticism that have evaluated visual Outsider Art can also help provide a similar framework for literary Outsider Art.

Keywords: Outsider Art, Art Brut, Mental Illness, Vaslav Nijinsky, Daniel Paul Schreber

The International Journal of the Image, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.23-32. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 326.995KB).

Kenneth DiMaggio

Professor of Humanities, Humanities, Capital Community College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA

I am a professor of humanities at Capital Community College (CCC) in Hartford Connecticut. CCC is an urban community college where students are often reading at a level that is below traditional college course work, thus making literacy a prime issue that constantly needs to be addressed. As a teacher of literature and writing, I am constantly looking for texts to help address the above issue, and also how texts can be approached in a new critical perspective.