WELCOME TO brutjournal
Why create a new art-and-culture magazine — and why now? That’s a question my collaborators and I pondered before diving into the pool with sink-or-swim gusto. brutjournal is the new online publication we’ve come up with and we hope you will enjoy getting to know it and join its community of reader-subscribers. (The online magazine will have a special print component, too. See the SUBSCRIBE page to learn about The brutjournal Annual.)
Many of us had been involved for some time (in my case, for many years) in the related fields of art brut and outsider art, either as researchers and collectors, or as arts journalists, curators, historians, or dealers; for many of us, the most original, compelling, hard-to-classify creations of a wide variety of inventive, self-taught art-makers had long seized our attention and served as sources of endless inspiration and wonder.
However, we all noted that, even though, after many decades, outsider art had grown to become a well-recognized, well-developed, special sector of the wider art establishment, with an international network of galleries, museums, fairs, and periodicals, the field lacked a magazine that dared to examine the distinctive creations of the most note-worthy autodidacts in a way that went beyond merely considering their biographies and mythologizing their real or perceived marginalization from so-called mainstream society and culture.
No one was or routinely has been looking at their lives, art, and ideas in broader, more complex contexts.
The time has come to examine the works of such art-makers in relation to the narratives of canonical, mainstream art history, not for the purpose of seeking any kind of validation from any association with academic art history’s recognized “masters” or dictates, but rather because an exploration of the various affinities the works of self-taught artists might share with those of their schooled, storied counterparts — which, often, can turn out to be illuminating and unexpected — can expand our understanding of art’s communicative power, no matter where the impulse to create art might come from, or who might respond to it, or what kind of label ends up being slapped on this or that artist’s oeuvre.
Whether an artist is academically trained or not, what interests us — in fact, what we find most fascinating — is why those who make art choose to do so in the first place, even dedicating their lives to a pursuit that, for the most part, with rare, notable exceptions, can be very challenging and generally is not understood, appreciated, or rewarded by society and the marketplace at large.
Of course, without artists of all kinds, from hair stylists to pop singers and record producers, novelists, television and movie actors, filmmakers, chefs and restaurateurs, and countless other makers of artistic products and purveyors of creative services, no society would have much of a culture about which to boast — and to richly inform so many aspects of everyday life.
The question that intrigues brutjournal’s contributors is: What makes such imaginative, creative people tick? Where do their ideas come from? What motivates them? Do they feel compelled to do what they do and to produce what they produce in order to convey certain ideas or messages, which might seem very urgent to them, to the world?
If so, what are they about, those mysterious dispatches from somewhere deep in the psyche, from where their creativity energy appears to flow?
These are the fundamental questions and concerns we’ll keep in mind as we do our research and reporting, and as we prepare the news articles, critical essays, interviews, photo essays, videos, audio clips, and other features this monthly magazine will offer. Subscribers will have full access to each month’s issue and to brutjournal’s archive of back issues and special features, which will grow over time.
A new issue will be published online on the first day of each month; during the course of that month, new items will be added to the current issue, breaking news stories will appear and be updated, and special contests and reader-participation features will be announced.
brutjournal will not cover the money game or the machinations of the art market. Other media outlets make those topics their business and, often, seem to allow their editorial content to be led by market trends. Those subjects don’t interest us. brutjournal will be concerned with art, not the business of art. Here, we’re unhesitatingly on the side of artists and those for whom looking at, thinking about, and integrating art and an appreciation of cultural expression in all its rich diversity is a vital part of their lives.
We unabashedly celebrate craftsmanship — that magical blending of technical proficiency and talent with which artists handle their materials and exploit their expressive potential. Likewise, we celebrate connoisseurship, which doctrinaire postmodernist critical theory long ago dismissed as merely “the fetishization of objects.” We say, “Bring on the finely crafted objects, from paintings and ceramics, to the latest, shiniest examples of cutting-edge industrial design. Oh, and lead us to the festishists, too. Often, they’re the best-informed experts on the subjects with which they’re so obsessed.”
One enthusiast’s fetish is another’s doctoral dissertation.
We’re interested in what’s going on in the heady precincts of conceptual art, too, where the raw material and the subject matter of artists’ concoctions are ideas themselves.
Step right up, conceptualists — and be prepared for your art and ideas to be examined and considered in the context of the broad, multifaceted discussion we’ll be pursuing in brutjournal’s diverse articles, essays, and other features.
The image above gives you a sense of some of the themes that are on our radar screen and that will be informing our thinking and our coverage.
As far as the basic structure and functioning of brutjournal’s website are concerned, you’ll find that, in each issue of the magazine, the HOME PAGE and THE BIG PAGE will serve as the anchor pages within the site from which certain articles and other features will branch off, linking to their own separate pages.
Keep an eye on THE BIG PAGE for reader-participation events to come, including a highly visible spot in which readers’ videos and other original creations will be showcased.
The launching of any new publication is an adventure, both for its creators and for its audience, as a community of engaged readers emerges and grows. We’re excited about this project and hope that you’ll become a subscriber and join us in a very special exploration of some of art and culture’s more unusual forms and expressions.
Come on in. The water’s fine!
Editor in Chief: Edward M. Gómez, New York and Tokyo
U.S.A. West Coast Bureau Chief: Sarah Fensom, Los Angeles
Visual Director: Bill Westmoreland, New York
Correspondents, reporters, contributors:
David Bjerklie (science), Annalise Flynn, John Foster, Roland Hagenberg (Japan), Jo Farb Hernández, Ivett Montalván (Mexico), Paul Pichardo (Austria), Chris Shields, Stuart Shepherd (New Zealand), Cathy Ward (United Kingdom), Daniel Wojcik — and this list is growing.
This website’s graphic-design scheme was conceived by Edward M. Gómez for Ballena Studio, Inc. and further developed, interpreted, and executed by Eric R. Wright, the artist and website designer who constructed all of this site’s components and who serves as its manager and as the magazine’s all-around avant-tech guru.