Why is it that the most powerful American art is outsider art? Of course, we don’t have the same sort of government patronage for artists that European countries do, so more of our artists are “outsiders” by definition. But our artists seem to thrive in this harsh cultural landscape, which provides the pressure through which eccentricity is formed into aesthetic diamonds. It was Moby Dick, after all, that ended Herman Melville’s career as a writer. The book was his white whale, dragging him down into an obscurity that only ended when an Englishman, D.H. Lawrence, began to champion Moby Dick in the early 20th century.
The trick to being remembered, it seems, is for the artist to remain half-forgotten, quietly smoldering away in the hinterlands while letting his or her work give off an occult heat, drawing in the sensitive.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor