Folk art, Outsider art, Art Brut — no matter what you call it, the work of self-taught artists has been fascinating doctors, curators, and other artists for the past hundred years. Inspired by a vision, these artists are often driven by obsession to realize their ideas on found materials using makeshift methods that might seem illogical but end up leading to profound works of art. From the former slave Bill Traylor and orphaned Adolf Wölfli to the gifted savant George Widener and Baptist reverend Howard Finster, we’ve assembled the best of the bunch. Click through our gallery of images and let us know if there is anyone you would add to the mix.
A self-taught artist who was born into slavery in 1854, Bill Traylor was discovered making drawings of people on the street and memories of plantation life in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1940s.