The Collection of the Moscow Museum of Outsider Art was founded - albeit unwittingly - in 1989. At the time, perestroika had focused public attention on both new ideas in art and on the plight of the handicapped and mentally ill in Soviet Society. In 1990, the first exhibit of art by Russian mental patients opened in Moscow. It was hugely successful and traveled to several European capitals. During these travels, the Russian organizers of this exhibit were fascinated with the Western genre of Art Brut, or Outsider Art. This movement had been developing vigorously in the West, but was entirely unknown in the former Soviet Union.
Upon their return to Moscow, the organizers broadened their objectives and started actively collecting Russian works of Outsider Art. Over the past ten years, the collection has been exhibited throughout the former Soviet Union, as well as in Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Hungary, Bulgaria, South Africa, Peru and the United States.
The first ever Russian Museum of Outsider Art opened in 1996. Since then, the collection has grown to several hundred pieces and, in 2000, moved to new permanent premises in the Izmailovsky region of Moscow. Today, the Moscow Museum of Outsider Art remains a museum dedicated exclusively to collecting and exhibiting Outsider Art in Russia.
Being acquainted with the history of Outsider Art, one can not get rid of temptation to recognize this form of artistic expression as a part of the creativity of mentally ill people, the outsiders of our society. However, not any art work created by a mentally disturbed person can be regarded as a work of Outsider Art and not all outsider artists are interesting for psychiatrists. Consequently, we need to work out precise moments that can help us to relate a work of art to Outsider Art. Unfortunately, the term Outsider Art is sometimes misused to define the works of all non-professional artists.
To illustrate this question we decide to give the opportunity to compare two main notions in the field. Art Brut is a term introduced by Dubuffet in 1945 for the works that he collected. Later this term was used for the Collection de I'Art Brut (Lausanne.) Art Brut is regarded as art in its purest manifistation, as a spontaneous psychic flow going from the depth of sub-consciousness the flow that is embodied on paper or realized in the material.
- Art Brut represents the works that are original and unique in form and content;
- The creators do not recognize themselves as artists and even realize that they "make an".
The term "0utsider Art" was used as an English equivalent for Art Brut. (Later it was applied to the wider specter of works including some of the works in the "Neuve Invention" category.) Outsider Art is characterized by less strict definition, by the orientation on changes that have happened during the last decades in social cultural environment. Outsider Art may be defined as following:
All art works - paintings, graphics, sculptures, installations and various constructions - by people who have no artistic background and who create without any relation to the acceptance of artistic world, marketplace and definitions.
Outsider artists are the people who produce art for themselves or their immediate community until collectors or experts define their works as the works of art.