Recap: Outsider Art Fair, New York

Despite the threat of super-storm Jonas looming around the corner, the 24th edition of the Outsider Art Fair boasted a healthy crowd, mingling and drinking cocktails during the Vernissage on Thursday. Featuring over sixty galleries from around the world, its largest numbers to date, the fair brings together dealers exhibiting works by many self-taught artists or those who have been lingering on the fringes of the contemporary art world.

The diversity of both the national and international galleries participating this year was impressive and it was refreshing to see many names not often present in the larger fairs around the city. The range of mediums on view consisted mostly of works on paper, prints, and assemblage, with a respectable presence of painting. There was a memorial exhibit of Ional Talpazan who was known to sell his paintings of flying saucers and UFOs in space for decades on sidewalks around New York; from the glitzy corners of Soho, across the street from MoMA, to the entrance of the Outsider Art Fair. The fair also featured Babel, a curated exhibit of 3D printed imagined towers assembled from online submissions by architects, designers, engineers and artists.

Most of the booths were adorned with an abundance of red dots, attesting to the widespread positive feedback received after being open for only a matter of hours. Moreover, it is clear that the Outsider Art Fair fills an important role by creating a consistent space to showcase self-taught artists. Not only does the fair continue to highlight this infrequently talked about artistic movement, but more importantly, they also bring duly deserved attention to outsider artists’ influence on, and growing permanence, in the greater Art Historical canon.

Lila Nazemian

Lila Nazemian is the Curatorial and Special Projects Associate at Leila Heller Gallery in New York. She received a B.A. in History from Scripps College in California, and an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from NYU in New York. Having written for publications such as Tribe Magazine and Flavorpill, she also pursues independent artistic and curatorial projects.