Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists

Wednesday 13 April 2022

Lisa Slominski was joined in-conversation by Nicola Wright (Curator, Exhibitions, Studio Voltaire) to celebrate the launch of Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists (Yale University Press: 2022).

This new publication traces a global history of self-taught artists, advocating for a nuanced understanding of modern and contemporary art which is 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 colour, have had a transformative influence on the history of modern art.

Nonconformers includes work by well-known figures such as Henry Darger, Hilma af Klint, and Bill Traylor, and examines how self-taught artists factored into key movements of twentieth-century art. An international group of contributors addresses topics such as the development of l’Art Brut in France and the impact of the Black Folk Art exhibition in America, as well as the creative process of artists working outside of traditional studios. The publication highlights the work of contemporary practitioners which include artists recently commissioned by Studio Voltaire, such as William Scott and Nnena Kalu.

  1. Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists

    Lisa Slominski; With contributions by Michael Bonesteel, Mamadou Cisse, Sophia Cosmadopoulos, Tom di Maria, Jo Farb Hernandez, Cheryl Finley, Katherine Jentleson, Phillip March Jones, Sarah Lombardi, John Maizels, William Scott, and George Widener

    Yale University Press, 2022

    Price: £35 RRP
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  2. Lisa Slominski is an American curator, writer, and cultural producer based in London. She advocates for neurodiversity in the current contemporary art discourse and actively examines the historical framework of artists considered ‘self-taught’ or ‘outsiders’. Academically she lectures on the effects of artists assigned as ‘Outsiders’ including for Queen Mary University of London. Recent articles include “Ron’s Place: The Theatre or (personal) Power” in the peer-reviewed journal for Cambridge University Press and “Season One: for an inclusive and accessible contemporary art world” for Art UK. In 2020, she co-founded the inclusive international curatorial platform Art et al. that focuses on international commissions and collaboration between arts professionals with and without disability. Previously, she curated public art commissions on Chicago’s mass-transit system with the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, and for Tenderpixel, London. Nonconformers: A New History of Self-Taught Artists is her first art history book published internationally by Yale University Press.

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