Exhibition: PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie

American Folk Art Museum

2 Lincoln Square
New York NY 10023



Event Dates

Jan 27, 2021

Feb 03, 2021

Feb 10, 2021

Feb 17, 2021

Feb 24, 2021

Mar 03, 2021

Mar 10, 2021

Mar 17, 2021

Mar 24, 2021

Mar 31, 2021

Apr 07, 2021

Apr 14, 2021

Apr 21, 2021

Apr 28, 2021

May 05, 2021

May 12, 2021

May 19, 2021

May 26, 2021

Jun 02, 2021


11:30am - 6:00pm

American Folk Art Museum

The exhibition PHOTO|BRUT is a continuation of the American Folk Art Museum’s commitment to champion the works of academically untrained artists—this time with a focus on the ever-changing field of photography, the frontiers and accessibility of which expanded proportionally with the invention of portable and affordable cameras.

PHOTO|BRUT provides the first international glimpse into this fecund territory, which has received little attention until recent years. This exhibition welcomes the substantial art brut photography collection of French filmmaker Bruno Decharme, which has already expanded and diversified since its presentation at the Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles in 2019. The current selection speaks to Decharme’s subjective collecting activity that brought him—without the parameters of a historical framework—from one discovery to another. The exhibition is complemented by the museum’s holdings, as well as by artworks treasured by American collectors and public organizations.

The exhibition unites more than four hundred early and recent works by forty artists—some recently unveiled, discovered postmortem, or on occasion brought into dialogue with contemporary art, as works by Marcel Bascoulard and Lee Godie have been. This selection, typical of the heterogeneous typology of photography, encompasses a wide spectrum of creations: Aside from traditional photographs, it also gathers collages made from printed materials, artworks that relied on the photographic process, and photographs that were never developed, such as slides and digital images.

To expose relationships between these various, inimitable artistic postures, PHOTO|BRUT is organized in four loose yet interconnected sections, probing themes of gender expansiveness, intimacy, image appropriation, and conjuring practices that seek connections to the imperceptible. These profound bodies of work are often process-based, subversive, and pluridisciplinary. As art historian Michel Thévoz observes, these creators “use the camera to play against type, by making their daily life an unreality or making their chimeras hyperreal. They use photography in spite of or beyond its presumptive objectivity, to imbue fantasy with the stamp of realism or, inversely, to sublimate an ordinary subject.”

Curators: Valérie Rousseau, PhD, Senior Curator, and Bruno Decharme in collaboration with Barbara Safarova, Sam Stourdzé, and Paula Aisemberg.

This exhibition is co-produced by the American Folk Art Museum, abcd, and the Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles. We would like to thank the lenders for their precious collaboration: Barry Sloane Collection, Edward V. Blanchard Jr., Eileen and Michael Cohen, Bruno Decharme, Antoine de Galbert, John and Teenuh Foster, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Marion Harris, Institut Métapsychique International, Paris, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, Galerie Lumière des roses, Montreuil, Kevin O’Rourke, Robert A. Roth, Sacks Family Collection, Julie Saul Gallery, JoAnn Seagren and Scott H. Lang, and Ichiwo Sugino.

A 320-page catalog (English and French, 2019), published by Flammarion in collaboration with the American Folk Art Museum and abcd, is available at the Museum Shop. It includes contributions by Bruno Decharme, Phillip March Jones, Camille Paulhan, Valérie Rousseau, Barbara Safarova, Sam Stourdzé, Michel Thévoz, Brian Wallis, and Richard-Max Tremblay.

With works by Horst Ademeit, Steve Ashby, Morton Bartlett, Marcel Bascoulard, John Brill, Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Jesuys Crystiano, Henry Darger, John Devlin, Pepe Gaitán, Pietro Ghizzardi, Lee Godie, Yohann Goetzmann, Kazuo Handa, Marian Henel, Mark Hogancamp, Paul Humphrey, Zdeněk Košek, Alexander Lobanov, Tomasz Machciński, Albert Moser, Norma Oliver, Luboš Plný, Ilmari Salminen, Valentin Simankov, Ichiwo Sugino, Leopold Strobl, Elke Tangeten, Dominique Théate, Miroslav Tichý, Type 42, Zorro, Elisabeth Van Vyve, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, August Walla, Frédéric, spirit photographers, UFOs and aliens unidentified photographers, and 19th and 20th Century unidentified artists.