Nonconformers A New History of Self-Taught Artists Lisa Slominski, Michael Bonesteel, Mamadou Cisse, Sophia Cosmadopoulos, Tom di Maria, Jo Farb Hernandez, Cheryl Finley, Katherine Jentleston, Sarah Lombardi, John Maizels, Philip March Jones, William Scott, George Widener

Publication date:
12 Apr 2022
Yale University Press
400 pages: 267 x 210mm
300 color illus.
Sales territories:
World English


A global history of self-taught artists advocating for a nuanced understanding of modern and contemporary art often challenged by the establishment

When the art world has paid attention to makers from outside the cultural establishment, including so-called outsider and self-taught artists, it has generally been within limiting categories. Yet these artists, including many women, people with disabilities, and people of color, have had a transformative influence on the history of modern art. Responding to growing interest in these artists, this book offers a nuanced history of their work and how it has been understood from the early twentieth century to the present day.

Nonconformers includes work by well-known figures such as Henry Darger, Hilma af Klint, and Bill Traylor alongside many other artists who deserve widespread recognition. After reviewing how self-taught artists factored into key movements of twentieth-century art, the book shifts to highlighting the voices of contemporary practitioners through new interviews with artists William Scott, Mamadou Cissé, and George Widener. An international group of contributors addresses topics such as the development of the Black Folk Art movement in America and l’Art Brut in France, the creative process of self-taught artists working outside of traditional studios, and the themes of figuration, landscape, and abstraction. Global in scope and with chronological breadth, this alternative narrative is an essential introduction to the genre long known as “Outsider Art.”

Lisa Slominski is an American curator, writer, and cultural producer based in London. She provides a voice of diversity and inclusivity within a contemporary art context and lectures on the topic of “Outsider Art,” including for Queen Mary University of London.

“A provocative and meticulous study of over 60 self-taught artists from around the world. Even more importantly, it questions the history, includes essays from global experts, and redefines the entire genre.”—Iain Jackson, University of Liverpool