Museums reaching out to Artists and Audiences

“By showing Outsider Art we do something new, something for the benefit of the whole society. The Outsider Art is a novelty in the international museum world.” – Prof. dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky

The State Hermitage Museum is organising the first International Symposium about Outsider Art: Museums reaching Out to Artists and Audiences. As Outsider Art is enjoying a growing interest, key players in and outside this field will be discussing the future of Outsider Art.

During this symposium two main topics are discussed. The first one is how museums should work with visitors with mental health issues, learning disabilities and autism, best practices of the museums that work with audiences with special needs will be discussed. The second topic is how museums should work with the art created by people with mental disabilities, whose works are usually categorized as outsider art.

During the opening day, the unique exhibition of works by Shinichi Sawada, an outstanding artist from Japan, whose work is the crown jewel of the Outsider Art Museum collection (Amsterdam) is opened.

His miraculous sculptures have captured the imagination of many. Since his partaking in the Venice Biennale in 2013, his works became famous to a large audience. They have been a revelation and surprise to many and have been greeted with admiration by the art world ever since. His acclaimed work is seen as an important contribution to the arts and are very sought after by museums and collectors the world over. His art was part of the prestigious exhibitions: “Art Brut du Japon”; (2008, Lausanne, Switzerland ), “Art Brut Japonais”; (2011, Paris, France) “Hidden Beauty, Outsider Art from Japan” (2012 Dolhuys, Haarlem, the Netherlands), “Souzou”, (2013, Wellcome Collection London, Great Britain), “The encyclopedic Palace” (2013, Venice Biennale, Italy). His art is included in the Dolhuys Collection, the Netherlands and exhibited at their Outsider art Museum in the Hermitage Amsterdam and the “Collection de Art Brut”; in Lausanne. Since “Japan”, the opening exhibition of the Outsider Art Museum  (2016, Hermitage Amsterdam, the Netherlands), his work is frequently on display in the Hermitage Amsterdam.

The interest towards Outsider Art in Russia is growing, but a wide list of questions and misinterpretations is yet to be answered. Should the connection between mental status and art be noticed and studied? What role does Outsider Art play in the process of inclusion? What must be the role of the Outsider art in museum collections and in general cultural landscape?

Keynote speakers during the symposium are Prof. dr. Mikhail Piotrovsky (State Hermitage), Sarah Lombardi (Collection de l’Art Brut), Hans Looijen (Outsider Art Museum) and Jean-Hubert Martin. These experts, together with the audience, will discuss these current topics.