Flying High: Women Artists of Art Brut at Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien, Vienna, February 15 – June 23, 2019

Flying High is the first exhibition that is devoted ‘globally’ to female positions in Art Brut produced from 1860 until the present. The exhibition ‘flies high’ in every sense: it has gathered together 316 works by 93 women artists from 21 countries, which in many aspects of content and aesthetics challenge our idea of what art is.

The exhibition adopts the term Art Brut – raw art or outsider art – defined by Jean Dubuffet in 1945 as starting point for the primordial, non-academic art produced outside the cultural mainstream. The diversity and heterogeneity of the works being presented in the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien demonstrate clearly that the scope of the Art Brut concept today has over time encompassed far more than works of the mentally ill; it also includes the production of ‘mediumistic’ (spiritualist) women artists, ‘lone wolves’ and women artists with disabilities. This broadening of scope derives not least from the radical change in psychiatric medicine and its institutions – from formerly closed buildings to more open structures and even their dissolution. Contemporary Art Brut emerges today to a great extent from studios or from the structures created by the artists themselves.

The history of female Art Brut artists reflects the history of women’s emancipation on a precarious level: they have always been ‘the outsiders among outsiders’. Art Brut has never been treated on a par with the ‘high arts’. Since women first have to conquer their place both within Art Brut and also beyond feminist art, it is high time for a presentation of their works. This is the task that Flying High: Women Artists of Art Brut in the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien has set itself.” — Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien

Madame Favre. Untitled, 1860. Pencil on paper. Courtesy Henry Boxer Gallery

Aloïse Corbaz. Brevario Grimani (Detail), ca 1950. Crayon on paper. abcd / Bruno Decharme collection. Photo © César Decharme

Misleidys Castillo Pedroso. Untitled, ca 2016. Gouache on paper Collection Amr Shaker, Geneva © Misleidys Castillo Pedroso

Mary T. Smith. Untitled, ca 1980. Acrylic on metal. Hannah Rieger Collection. Photo © DETAILSINN Fotowerkstatt

Ida Maly. Figure from cells, ca 1934. Ink on paper.Private Collection. Photo © Alistair Fuller, Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien

Judith Scott. Untitled, no date. Wool and found object.s abcd / Bruno Decharme collection © Creative Growth Art Center. Photo © César Decharme

Hedwig Wilms. Tray with jug and watering jug, (probably) 1913-1915. Cotton yarn in knotting and crochet techniques. Prinzhorn Collection, Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg (Inv. 90, 91, 92)

Julia Krause-Harder. Nanotyrannus, 2013. Diverse materials. Courtesy Atelier Goldstein. Photo © Uwe Dettmar

Flying High: Women Artists of Art Brut was curated by Ingried Brugger and Hannah Rieger, and assistant curator Veronika Rudorfer.

Images courtesy

Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien.