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24 Jan 2021

PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie on view Through June 6

(New York, NY) PHOTO | BRUT: Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie will be on view at the American Folk Art Museum (2 Lincoln Sq., Columbus Ave. at W. 65th St.) from January 24, 2021 through June 6, 2021. Gathering works from the early years of photography through present day, the exhibition reveals the critical potential of a relatively unexplored area of art by the self-taught.

“I can think of no better way to kick-off the American Folk Art Museum’s 60th anniversary than with PHOTO | BRUT,” said Jason T. Busch, Director and CEO of the Museum. “Valérie Rousseau’s visionary research has led to a breath-taking, multi-media presentation that will break new ground and provide an irresistible experience for the Museum’s guests.”

The exhibition features nearly four hundred works of art by forty artists, all of which are divided into four thematic groups that address sexuality and intimacy, appropriation and social commentary, gender fluidity and the notion of identity, and connections with invisible and uncontrollable forces. Aside from traditional photographs, PHOTO | BRUT also gathers collages made from printed materials, artworks that rely on the photographic process, digital images, and slides that were never developed into printed photographs. Dr. Valérie Rousseau, Senior Curator at the Museum, organized the exhibition with filmmaker and collector Bruno Decharme, in collaboration with Paula Aisemberg, Barbara Safarova, and Sam Stourdzé.

“These creators stand out for the inventiveness of their art-making and their provocative images, which defy the traditional boundaries of art history,” said Rousseau. “With fresh insight and innovative perspectives into the medium, they offer a forceful counterpoint and a parallel narrative to the field of photography.”

Included in the exhibition are photographs by Morton Bartlett, Marcel Bascoulard, Lee Godie, Norma Oliver, and Miroslav Tichý, as well as projections of never-before-printed images by Eugene Von Bruenchenhein and the Instagram transformations of Ichiwo Sugino. Also featured are assemblages and collages made of photographs by Steve Ashby, Felipe Jesus Consalvos, and Kazuo Handa, and works by Henry Darger and Leopold Strobl that rely heavily on the photographic process. The objects in the exhibition have been selected from the growing art brut photography collection of filmmaker Bruno Decharme, as well as from the AFAM, public institutions, and private collections.


A series of free, virtual programs are planned in conjunction with the exhibition. They are presented as part of the Museum’s Virtual Insights series, which provides fresh perspectives on the Museum, its exhibitions, and collection.

Nina Katchadourian and Neil Goldberg on Photography and Portraiture
Thursday, March 18, 2021, 1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
Celebrated contemporary artists Nina Katchadourian and Neil Goldberg will offer a closer look into their creative practices and share their responses to selected works from the exhibition.

(Re)Turning the Gaze
Thursday, April 1, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
A conversation with curators Karen Patterson, Ka-Man Tse, and Valérie Rousseau on the concept of the gaze in relation to gender, race, and sexuality, and the body as a site of gendered negotiation, performance, and self-expression in works by contemporary photographers and artists from the exhibition.

Antwaun Sargent in Conversation with Horace D. Ballard
Tuesday, April 20, 2021, 1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
A conversation with author and critic Antwaun Sargent in dialogue with curator and art historian Horace D. Ballard exploring the rich histories and contemporary practices of emerging and established self-taught Black photographers, looking in particular at questions of power, representation, influence, and legacy.

The Imagined Worlds of Marwencol with Jon Ronson and Mark Hogancamp
Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
Noted Journalist, screenwriter, and best-selling author Jon Ronson joins exhibition curator Valérie Rousseau to discuss self-taught artist Mark Hogancamp’s unique photographic practice, followed by a conversation with the artist himself.


PHOTO | BRUT is accompanied by a 320-page, richly illustrated, catalogue, published by Flammarion in collaboration with the American Folk Art Museum and abcd ($40, hardbound). The publication includes contributions by Michel Thévoz, Brian Wallis, Bruno Decharme, Valérie Rousseau, Barbara Safarova, and Sam Stourdzé.

Digital Engagement 

The exhibition is featured on the Museum’s website, as well as on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter via the hashtag #PhotoBrut.

About the American Folk Art Museum

The American Folk Art Museum engages people of all backgrounds through its collections, exhibitions, publications, and programs as the leading forum shaping the understanding and appreciation of folk and self-taught art across time and place.

Exhibition credits

This exhibition is co-produced by the American Folk Art Museum, abcd, and Les Rencontres d’Arles, where a segment of this exhibition was presented in 2019. It is supported in part by the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, the Stacy C. Hollander Fund for Exhibitions, William Talbott Hillman Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Council for Self-Taught Art.