Marginalized Art

  • In a stylized image, painter Igor Savitsky stands in front of the Soviet flag bearing the hammer and sickle.
    In a time of war and oppression, freedom of expression is often the first casualty.
  • An artistic rendering of David's “Death of Marat,” made entirely from materials found in a Brazilian landfill.
    Anyone can use a paintbrush and some oils. Just try making great art with chocolate syrup or rotting garbage.
  • Two dolls, one dressed as a bride and the other as a groom who also has a red gash on his forehead, stand in front of four captured soldier dolls hanging by their feet.
    When may a disabled artist be considered, simply, an artist?
  • Jean-Michel Basquiat wearing a yellow sweater with designer eyewear perched over his forehead sits in front of one of his paintings, which includes an image of what looks like a stylized Chinese dragon or a gargoyle.
    Scrawl something on a piece of public property. Will you get arrested or given a show in Paris?
  • How much does what you know about an artist change how you define and value their work?

Art on the Periphery

Outsider. Folk. Street. Sacrilege. Treasonous. Unconventional. Vernacular. Naïve. Visionary. The terms we use to define art that does not fall into popular conceptions of “high art” or “fine art” are as numerous as they are fluid. Explore our collection of films and interactive features about the spectacular variety of art that lives outside the establishment.

The artist Jean-Michel Basquiat stands smiling in front of one of his canvases.

The Films

Explore Independent Lens films about unconventional art and artists from around the world who have challenged our presumptions about beauty. From censored art in Uzbekistan to Basquiat’s street art in Manhattan, from the world’s largest landfill to the mind of an artist with a brain injury, we’ll circle the globe by surfing art’s fringes. Explore the films >>

A detail from a painting entitled “The Bull” by Vladimir Lysenko depicts a wild looking beast staring out at the viewer with void-black eyes and one horn patterned enigmatically with Mondrian-like, colored rectangles.

Interactive Features

From street art to pre-punk beat literature; from Soviet censorship to the Third Reich’s exhibition of “degenerate art”; art from the underrepresented always seems to nudge culture to the edge of its comfort zone. Check out photo galleries, quizzes, videos, and other interactive goodies >>