Outsider art is used to describe art that has a naïve quality, often produced by people who have not trained as artists or worked within the conventional structures of art production

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  • Alfred Wallis, 'St Ives' circa 1928
    Alfred Wallis
    St Ives circa 1928
    Oil and drawing on board
    support: 257 x 384 mm
    frame: 355 x 455 x 44 mm
    Presented by Ben Nicholson 1966© The estate of Alfred Wallis
  • Jean Dubuffet, 'Monsieur Plume with Creases in his Trousers (Portrait of Henri Michaux)' 1947
    Jean Dubuffet
    Monsieur Plume with Creases in his Trousers (Portrait of Henri Michaux) 1947
    Oil and grit on canvas
    support: 1302 x 965 mm
    frame: 1369 x 1035 x 72 mm
    Purchased 1980© ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2002
  • Bryan Pearce, 'St Ives from the Cemetery' 1975
    Bryan Pearce
    St Ives from the Cemetery 1975
    Oil on board
    unconfirmed: 533 x 1219 mm
    Presented by Sir Alan and Lady Bowness to celebrate the opening of Tate Gallery St Ives 1993© The Estate of Bryan Pearce. All rights reserved, DACS 2009

The art of children, psychiatric patients and prisoners who create art outwith the conventional structures of art training and art production is often categorised as outsider art. In 1964 the French artist Jean Dubuffet started to collect artworks he considered to be free from societal constraints. This was termed art brut (raw art) – another term for outsider art – and in 1948 he founded the Compagnie de L’Art Brut with André Breton.

The artist Ben Nicholson discovered the naïve painter Alfred Wallis in St Ives in the 1920s. A retired fisherman, Wallis painted pictures of ships and the town harbour on pieces of driftwood and cardboard.