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Radio Chipstone: Self-Taught Art

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Milwaukee Art Museum
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"Untitled" by Simon Sparrow (American, 1925–2000). 1984";

We go to museums to look at art. We might love the Impressionists, or the Pre-Raphaelites. Or maybe Andy Warhol or some kind of mixed media conceptual installation makes our hearts sing.

Often seeing the art isn’t enough. Because we humans love to categorize things, we want to know what kind of art we’re looking at. We also might want to know when the work was made and who made it and why. When it comes to self-taught artists – sometimes called outsider artists – the categorization of their work can become tricky. Are we looking at Folk-Vernacular, or Naïve art? Perhaps it’s actually Intuitive art, or maybe even Visionary? Does it matter? 

Margaret Andera is an Adjunct Curator of Contemporary Art at the Milwaukee Art Museum with a focus on American Art. In this edition of Radio Chipstone, contributor Gianofer Fields and Andera explore the question of how to define this art:

Gianofer Fields studies material culture at UW-Madison and is the curator of "Radio Chipstone" - a project funded by the Chipstone Foundation, a decorative arts foundation whose mission is preserving and interpreting their collection, as well as stimulating research and education in the decorative arts.