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Inside the Outside: Five Self-Taught Artists from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation

Mar 28, 2017 - Jul 23, 2017

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This exhibition features the work of five visual artists who operate within the genre of “self-taught art,” a sweeping term applied to artists who, for various reasons, did not benefit from, nor were influenced by, a formal art education. From Nellie Mae Rowe’s vivacious patterned drawings of animals to the hushed and serene rural landscapes of a silent James Castle and the animated tableaux of Southern life created by an observant, people-loving Bill Traylor, these artists used found and repurposed materials to describe worlds that hover between the real and the fantastical.

Willie Young has used paper for wrapping carpets as a medium, taking a highly adaptive and functional material to an altogether new level with finely crafted and delicate images. Like the other artists included here, his art blends aspects of his immediate reality with a profoundly innovative world. Whereas Thornton Dial worked with everyday materials on a larger scale to create expressive scenes, which often address history, politics and world events from a critical perspective.

Though grouped under the self-taught heading, their work could not be more distinct. By identifying a select group of artists to consider within this rubric, the exhibition examines the vastly different realities that can inspire an individual to create ambitious and lasting artworks that do not fit neatly into the trends of mainstream-art practice. Drawing is a major presence in this exhibition; it is an immediate, inexpensive and intimate medium for artists of humble means from any background. The artists featured here pursued their passions while holding jobs that ranged from steel working to shoe shining. Modest, lightweight and transportable materials had obvious benefits, allowing for quick sketching and alteration.

William Louis-Dreyfus was an early champion of many self-taught artists and built an important collection of modern and contemporary works housed in Mount Kisco, New York. He collected art based not on any trends but because of “the conviction that the work achieves an inescapable and meaningful artistic presence.” This philosophy extends to the self-taught world; he acquired works “that transcend craft and folk traditions and end up creating, first and foremost, artistic experience.”

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Mar 28, 2017
Jul 23, 2017


Artis-Naples, FL
Phone: 34108-2740
Address: 5833 Pelican Bay Boulevard
Naples, FL 239 United States