Why do outsider artists make art?
The work in Obsessive Drawing, now open at the American Folk Art Museum in New York, could hardly be purer or more authentic. Seeing it is an exhilarating reminder of everything you ever thought (and learned better than to ask) about the relationship between art and madness and about the overwhelming compulsion to make art. It is independent of any ambition to be recognized (and compensated appropriately) as a professional artist. It is difficult to look at these works without sensing how much their creators were driven by necessity, or, as curator Brooke Davis Anderson comments, by the need "to help them cope with regret, fear, loss, or illness."
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Francine Prose is the author, most recently, of A Changed Man.