The works in the exhibition are loosely organized according to stylistic characteristics.
The first half of the exhibition features works with an emphasis on the drawn line. British artist Scottie Wilson used parallel lines and bright colors to create decorative, graphic designs. Henry Darger, on the other hand, developed characters he called the Vivian Girls for his 15,145-page novel from tracings of magazines, newspapers, coloring books, and comics. The symmetry of Minnie Evans’s work frames brightly colored, highly detailed religious scenes, while the varied lines of Rosemarie Koczy’s work are expressive and dense, with the figures within them seemingly haunted—a reference to her childhood spent in a concentration camp.
The rest of the exhibition groups artists who tend to feature the same subject matter, technique, or interests.
Artists such as Jahan Maka, James Dixon, and Alfred Wallis focused on the landscapes of their homelands. This area also includes a set of works that make use of multiple, simultaneous perspectives—almost like a version of bird’s-eye-view.
Although many assume that the artists in this exhibition have little to no knowledge of academic conventions, the artists in the next section prove otherwise. Andrew Litten, Sylvia Levine, Anne Grgich, and others display a clear understanding of art world tropes such as still lifes, portraiture, and nudes.
Other artists were more or less unaware of the art world. These artists include Dora Holzhander, Nikifor, Max Raffler, and Louis Ernout—their styles vary, but their subject matter often relates to religion.
The work of artists, such as Justin McCarthy, Albert Louden, and Perifimou, reflect the artists’ fascination with pop culture, appropriating motifs and text into graphic works.
David Pearce, Bill Traylor, and William L. Hawkins are grouped together for the immediacy of their brushwork and bold figures.
James Lloyd’s almost pointillist style was inspired by the Ben-Day dots he noticed in printed reproductions of masterpiece paintings. Conscious of the art world, he featured landscapes and figures while also experimenting with abstract and surrealist tendencies.
Finally, the last section of the show focuses on a group of artists associated with the Art/Brut Center Gugging, located outside of Vienna, Austria. Formerly a psychiatric institution, the center emerged from a program that one of the original doctors founded when he discovered and encouraged the artistic talents of a number of his patients. Artists represented in this section include Johann Garber, Johann Fischer, August Walla, and Oswald Tschirtner.
You can find detailed biographies of each artist in the exhibition in this PDF.