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outsider artists

hawkins bolden
eugene von bruenchenhein
eileen doman
paul duhem
howard finster
william hawkins
s.l. jones
gilles manero
justin mccarthy
jean-michel messager
j.b. murray
philadelphia wireman
gerard sendrey
simon sparrow
carter todd
mose tolliver
robert wilkinson
purvis young

 Gerard Sendrey: French (born 1928)

Gerard Sendrey
Buste (2004)
India Ink on Paper :: 12½ x 9 ½

biographical information

Before entering retirement, Gerard Sendrey worked as civil servant in Begles, a small village in the Bordeaux country of France. During much of the time that he was reporting to the village hall, dealing with quotidian municipal matters, Sendrey was leading a second life, one unknown even to his co-workers. At every opportunity he had away from his job, he was painting.

Sendrey seems always to have been at least two artists in a single body. Sometimes he produces paintings that, like those of the surrealist Andre Masson or the abstact expressionist Robert Motherwell, take their form through a kind of automatic writing where he attempts to suspend thought and let the subconscious take over. On other occasions, he turns outs ink drawings that appear so maddeningly detailed that their creation would seem to require the concentration of a brain surgeon.

Sendrey is the embodiment of that species identified as "outsider artist." He was around 40 before he started producing his first paintings and drawings. For the next dozen years or so, while working in isolation, he kept expanding the universe of his subjects. Often he turned out Expressionist style portraits of men and women who, like the subjects of Georges Rouault and Alberto Giacometti, seemed weighted with bottomless sorrow.

Sendrey was given his first solo show in 1979 at the Galerie du Fleve, a small cellar space in Bordeaux. By marvelous chance, the exhibition was seen by Michel Thevoz, curator of the Musee de l'Art in Lausanne, Switzerland, begun by Jean Dubuffet. Thevoz, an important critic and writer, pronounced Sendrey as a major discovery. In a published appraisal, he wrote: Rare is the artist who doesn't give in to the temptation to conform his art to the broad public's standards of what comprises good form, taste and aesthetic norm. Gerard Sendrey is one of these rarities. He risks new adventure without regard to whether his art might upset the tautological preferences of the viewer and cause some discomfort.

Within a year after his first show, Sendrey's work entered the collections of virtually all the museums in Europe that have collections of art brut, among them the Musee de l'Art in Lausanne, the Musee l'Aracine in Neuilly, France, and the Centre de Recherche et de Diffusion d'Art en Marge in Brussels, Belgium, Later his work would enter numerous institutional collections in the United States, among them those of the Museum of American Folk Art in New York City, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Chicago Center for Self Taught Art and the Anthony Petullo Collection of Self Taught Art, Milwaukee.

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