The main project of the 55th Venice Biennale "The Encyclopedic Palace" (2013) became a world triumph of Outsider Art. The project brought together more than 150 artists from 38 countries, including Hilma af Klint, Anna Zemankova and other outsiders and visionaries. The exhibition was based on an anthropological approach to the study of images, focused on the imagination and its functions, and blurred the limits between professional artists and amateurs.
The concept of the exhibition was based on the utopian dream of the Italian-American outsider artist Marino Auriti, who in 1955 in the United States applied for a patent for the "Encyclopedic Palace" - an imaginary museum designed to house all the knowledge of the world. Aurity created a model of the 136-story building to be built in Washington, DC, reaching 700 meters in height and covering 16 blocks. As the curator of the Venice Biennale Project Massimiliano Gioni noted: "The dream of universal integral knowledge has arisen throughout the history of art and humanity, and eccentrics like Auriti share it with other artists, writers, scientists and self-proclaimed prophets who have tried - often in vain - to form an image of the world, reflecting its endless diversity and richness. Today, when we are faced with a constant flow of information, such attempts seem even more necessary and desperate ".
The history of perception and recognition of Outsider Art in Russia is not similar to that in the West. After the 1917 revolution, the restructuring of all spheres of life of the new Soviet state led to a radical rethinking of art. In 1921, the State Academy of Artistic Sciences (ГАХН/GAKhN) was created, its physical and psychological department was focused on studying, among other things, the creativity of the psychiatric patients. Psychiatrist Pavel Karpov became one of the active theorists of GAKhN. His studies are close to the works of the German scientist Hans Prinzhorn, who had a significant influence on the formation of the discourse of Outsider Art in Europe, but Karpov was more moved by the concepts of Sigmund Freud on the one hand, and, on the other, with the idea of the intuitive nature of creativity. Karpov did not appeal to the discourse of contemporary art as Prinzhorn often did. In Karpov's later work, devoted to the art of prisoners, it is obvious that the scientific approach is "absorbed" by the ideological paradigm.
The next important phase was the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. Collections of drawings of the patients that existed in psychiatric hospitals and at the departments of psychiatry of medical universities, which were previously used only for the diagnosis of mental illness, began to be interpreted as a manifestation of creativity. The transformation of discourse is also facilitated by changing the boundaries of art and by the new possibilities for psychiatrists and private art collectors to become acquainted with the art of the avant-garde and modernism, the activities of foreign art institutions.
At the turn of the 1980s and 1990s, political change freed psychiatrists and art historians from the pressure of official ideology. The discourses of psychiatry and Outsider Art turn out to be connected by the concept of "otherness", which becomes an important positive category of the culture of this era. The expansion of the discourse of Outsider Art was also facilitated by the growth of private cultural initiatives.
In 1990, a Center for the Creative Rehabilitation of the Mentally Ill was opened in Moscow, started by the people of creative professions. In the same year a series of exhibitions of the art of psychiatric patients were held with the support of the non-profit organization Humanitarian Center. A radical change in discourse could be clearly seen in the style and categories used to describe the work of such authors: "Watercolors exude warmth, there is a lot of light in them. The simple realism of the landscape, which can be found only in the drawings of children, is touching. The creativity of these people knows no barriers and taboos. It is open to the world and giving us back its images and contours, bypassed by traditional art ". At this time, the modality of the statement actually changed: from understanding the creativity of the mentally ill as a phenomenon caused by the course of the disease, to the perception of psychiatric patients as discoverers of a new art.
This change in discourse can also be seen in the feedback of the visitors of the exhibition "We Also Create" at the Sklifosovsky Institute of Emergency Medicine: "Are they sick ?! Apparently, yes, qualified and honest doctors know better. But one can also feel that they think, feel, experience - perhaps better and more truthfully than many of us, unified "healthy" people ... " Or, in another note:" ... How such exhibitions are needed right now, in this difficult time for us, the Russian people, the time when mercy awakens ... "; " If a person is talented and the talent of an individual vision of the world is added to the talent of an artist, then it does not matter for creativity whether he is healthy or sick ".
The exhibition "We Also Create" was followed by others organized by the Humanitarian Center: "Rock Musicians in Support of the Creativity of the Mentally Ill" (Moscow), "Pictures of the Soul" (Almaty, Narva, Tallinn), "Overcoming" (Moscow). Exhibitions were also held abroad: in Germany, USA, Switzerland, South Africa.
Active international contacts became a symbol of perestroika times. In 1990, the first foreign art exhibition of the psychiatric patients from the USSR was held in Munich. It was organized by the Humanitarian Center and the Center for Creative Rehabilitation. The text of the catalog contains hints of punitive psychiatry: "In the Soviet Union for a long time the problem of people with mental disabilities was disregarded. The state and largely ideologized psychiatry vigilantly stood guard over their unsightly secrets, and the creativity of people marked by the stigma of insanity, of course, could not be the subject of serious research by all interested parties ". Somewhat later, in 1997, the exhibition "Yaroslavl Collection" (from the collection of Vladimir Gavrilov) was held in Kassel within the framework of the parallel program of Documenta X. This project indicated the world-wide recognition of Russian Outsider Art.
At the Humanitarian Center, a collection grew, which eventually formed the basis of the Museum of Outsider Art, opened to the public in 2000 in Moscow. Active professional communication at the international level was part of the strategy of the head and founder of the museum, Vladimir Abakumov: during the formation of the collection, he studied the collections of art brut and the work of the people with mental disorders in Europe and America, communicated with curators, and created a series of documentaries about the art of outsiders.
In the mid-1990s, the discourse of Outsider Art in Russia became more scientifically oriented. As before in Europe, philosophers got involved in comprehending and interpretation this phenomenon and setting its limits. In 1995, scientific conferences on artistic primitiveness and marginal art began to be held with the participation of the Department of Aesthetics of Faculty of Philosophy of the Moscow State University, under the leadership of Alexander Migunov,.In 1997, a conference dedicated to "spiritual, artistic and art-therapeutic approaches to creativity" was held in Yaroslavl under the guidance of psychiatrist and collector Vladimir Gavrilov. The State Institute of Art Studies in Moscow became another important academic center for the study of Outsider Art. Ksenia Bohemskaya and Nadezhda Musyankova stand out among the researchers of the institute.
From the late 1990s to the mid-2010s, the Museum of Naive Art (Moscow) also had been conducting research, preservation and popularization of Outsider Art in Russia. In 2015, it was transformed into the Museum of Russian Lubok and Naive Art as a result of its merger with the Moscow Museum of Folk Graphics. The museum regularly hosts the Naivfest festival (in triennial mode).
In the 2010s and early 2020s, large Russian museums began to organize exhibitions of Outsider Art. Among them were the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, the State Russian Museum, the Tsaritsyno Museum. The branch of the State Hermitage Museum in Amsterdam opened the Museum of Outsider Art in 2016 and has since been organizing exhibitions dedicated to this phenomenon on a regular basis. An important role is also played by private collectors and private institutions focused on identifying new names and supporting outsider artists: Alexei Turchin (Turchin-Bohemskaya Collection), Vladimir Gavrilov (Inye Collection), Art-Naiv gallery (Moscow), Outsiderville Public Organization (St. Petersburg), etc.
How can we explain this turn of museums and researchers towards the art of outsider artists - the recent outcasts? The breaks of cultural layers, the time of radical denial and total "disobedience" cause such a bifurcation leap of interest in art "outside". As the Russian art critic Alexander Yakimovich writes, "That source, that had previously worked in European artistic culture: anthropological distrust of cultured humanity – proceeded in the avant-garde with renewed vigour" . The turn from the person of Culture to the concepts of the Other has serious grounds: technological, mental, anthropic. The avant-guard establishes the power of the insane, the marginal, the Great Other.
In the era of paradigmatic changing of the attitudes of art, the key criterion for the value of a work is its relationship to the cultural tradition. According to Boris Groys, innovation is an act of negative adherence to cultural tradition, the creation of a work of art contrary to traditional patterns. In the understanding of the avant-garde or postmodernist, the classical episteme is a "mechanized area of the identical", while "latent, extra-cultural reality is that area of differences that automatically guarantees novelty" .
Reflecting on the postmodern situation, Groys draws our attention to the fact that culture continues to turn to the Other, and this is not something hidden, but the external situation on the market, and the safety of a cultural work can only be guaranteed by cultural archives. At the same time, originality is no longer an indispensable condition for getting into cultural archives: "Protecting oneself from the future by constantly emphasizing one's own originality has led, in particular, to the fact that today, although there is no talk about the new, but a lot is being said about the Other"  ... The category of originality or novelty is replaced by an appeal to the idea of the Other. In the postmodern era, the transition from the modernist discourse of authenticity to the discourse of otherness is being reinforced. But this Otherness must have value: it needs to be preserved, researched, commented on, and taken critically.
In the last decade, thanks to museum exhibitions and scientific research, the art of outsiders has won an honorable place in the "archives of culture". In connection with the transition from the discourse of authenticity to the discourse of otherness, it found itself on the frontier of contemporary artistic practices - and became part of the "big" history of art.