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Unusual Brains: Neurodiversity and Artistic Creation

Tuesday January 15, 2019

August Klett, Untitled, 1927, Mixed media, 6.3 x 10.04 inches (16 x 25.5 cm), Courtesy of the Dammann Collection

August Klett, Untitled, 1927, Mixed media, 6.3 x 10.04 inches (16 x 25.5 cm), Courtesy of the Dammann Collection


January 15, 2019
7pm – 9pm

Theater at the New Museum
235 Bowery
New York, NY 10002


Many of the legendary artists in the fields of art brut and Outsider Art spent much of their lives under psychiatric care. Some were deemed schizophrenic (e.g. Arthur Bispo do Rosario, Adolf Wölfli, Martín Ramírez) while others were treated for a variety of mental conditions. In recent years the autism spectrum has become more widely understood and artists with autism (e.g. Dan Miller, Susan Te Kahurangi King) have gained wide recognition for the inventiveness of their work.

What is the connection between the unique brain chemistries of such artists and the artworks they create? Our panelists will examine this question along with other issues related to art by neurodiverse and artists, including how this work is dealt with in the professional art world.

Dr. Eric R. Kandel is the Fred Kavli Professor at Columbia University and a Senior Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He is the recipient of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his study of learning and memory. He is the author of numerous books including his most recent, The Disordered Mind (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2018).

Linda Carmella Sibio (b. 1953) is a contemporary artist based in Joshua Tree, CA. She received her B.A. in Painting from Ohio University in 1975 and studied performance with Rachel Rosenthal in the late 1980s. She has exhibited and performed in numerous venues including the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and Franklin Furnace (New York). According to Sibio, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young adult, “The intention and impetus behind my work is to discover, learn, and explore the states of my schizophrenic mind.” For the last several years Sibio has periodically convened “The Insanity Principle,” an artist workshop that explores schizophrenic thinking and structured chaos. Her forthcoming solo exhibition The Economic States of Zero, will run from January 26–March 9, 2019 at Andrew Edlin Gallery.

Dr. Gerhard Dammann is a Swiss psychiatrist, psychologist and psychoanalyst. Since 2006, he has been the Medical Director of the Psychiatric Clinic in Münsterlingen and Hospital Director of Psychiatric Services Thurgau. He and his wife Karin collect art brut and Outsider Art from the context of psychiatry—that is to say by artists who have experienced psychiatric disorders and treatments.

The panel will be moderated by Massimiliano Gioni, Edlis Neeson Artistic Director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. In addition to the numerous exhibitions he has organized at the New Museum and elsewhere, Gioni is widely known in the field of Outsider Art for his curation of The Encyclopedic Palace at the Venice Biennale in 2013, which stood out for its groundbreaking inclusion of artworks by dozens of artists who had no formal training. Gioni has regularly featured art created outside the mainstream in shows like The Keeper (2016), Ostalgia (2011) and After Nature (2008).

Unusual Brains is presented on the occasion of the Outsider Art Fair by Wide Open Arts and Franklin Furnace as part of the OAF Talks 2019 program.

Please note: This event has sold out. For those who cannot attend, a recording of the talk will be available on our website following the fair.

Eric Kandel will also be onsite at the fair on Saturday, January 19 at 3PM for a book signing in the Rizzoli Bookstore, located in the OAF Lobby.

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