Frank Maresca is one of the pioneers of Self-Taught and Outsider Art. His home is choc-a-block with the stuff and he allowed New York Social Diary‘s Sian Ballen & Lesley Hauge to talk to him about the differences between Self-Taught and Outsider Art while Jeffrey Hirsch photographed the place. But these pictures don’t do the story justice and you’d be cheating yourself if you didn’t go to NYSD to see the whole thing:
My sense is that the sorts of things you have in here are the sorts of things a trained artists needs to look at in order to learn.
Yes, absolutely. It has served as inspiration for so many artists. It has given them raw material for them to make their own art. If you go back to the birth of Modernism … Picasso and Matisse and Braque were collecting tribal art. And then you look at what they were producing in 1906, up to 1915 …
So what do you think, in your world, of the role of the self-taught artist?
That is absolutely what it’s about. It’s about influence. Certainly this the case with the self-taught, and the outsider artists—it is important to me to make the distinction between the two … the outsiders are so lost in their own worlds that they need someone from ‘inside’ society to be caregivers. People who accept the term ‘outsider artist’ would say: Oh, William Hawkins was an outsider. Well why consider William Hawkins an outsider artist? Well, they would say because he had a third grade education, because he was illiterate, because he collected cardboard on the street, because he painted his shoes and his pants and he walked around with a Mexican sombrero on, or because he wore 20 tie tacks … the truth is none of that has anything to do with anything. It doesn’t make him an outsider artist because he was perfectly sane. I learned more from William Hawkins about art than I did from all my contemporaries. We consider William Hawkins to be a self-taught artist … [he] was operating outside of the art-historical continuum. He was not influenced by any other artist. But it doesn’t mean that he wasn’t influenced by popular culture.
Frank Maresca (New York Social Diary)