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16 Apr 2024

Virtual Insights: Francesc Tosquelles: Avant-Garde Psychiatry and the Birth of Art Brut

Join us for a conversation about the making of the exhibition Francesc Tosquelles: Avant-Garde Psychiatry and the Birth of Art Brut, which explores for the first time in the United States the legacy of Catalan psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles. The four curators will walk us through the exhibition’s artworks, archival documents and films, opening up a new window on psychiatry and its connections to art, literature and French theory.  

In dialogue with AFAM’s Senior Curator of Self-Taught Art & Art Brut Valérie Rousseau,  Joana Masó and Carles Guerra will first introduce us to the history of Saint-Alban psychiatric hospital in Southern France, which also became during World War II a refuge for political dissidents and intellectuals. In this “asylum-village,” Tosquelles pioneered revolutionary psychiatric practices (that came to be known as “institutional psychotherapy”) with the aspiration to “cure” mental institutions.

The curators will reveal the extraordinary variety of materials included in the Museum’s gallery, including artworks produced by Saint-Alban’s patients (among them, Auguste Forestier, Marguerite Sirvins, Aimable Jayet) and various figures central to this history, like Antonin Artaud and Jean Dubuffet—whose conceptualization of “art brut” in 1945 was impacted by Saint-Alban’s creative output.

Valérie Rousseau will close the program with Edward Dioguardi, Anthony Petullo Foundation and Weiler Curatorial Fellow. They will examine the history of mental health in the United States through the works of North American artists—among them Joseph Roth, Myrllen, Martín Ramírez, Judith Scott, and Gabriel Mitchell.

Space is limited; advance registration is required. Please consider making a donation when you register to support ongoing virtual programming.

Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation under “Additional Information.” Closed captioning will be provided in English. For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email

About the speakers

Edward Dioguardi is the Anthony Petullo Foundation and Weiler Curatorial Fellow at the American Folk Art Museum and a Ph.D. candidate in the Comparative Literature department at New York University. Publications appear in The Brooklyn Rail, e-flux, and in the European Journal of Psychoanalysis, where he now also serves as a peer referee.

Carles Guerra is an artist, art critic, independent researcher and curator who has extensively worked in the field of modern and contemporary art, critical pedagogies and museum studies. Last Fall 2023 Guerra was the inaugural visiting professor at the program for Catalan Studies hosted by the Center for European and Mediterranean Studies at NYU Arts & Science (CEMS) in collaboration with the Institut Ramon Llull. His latest research project has dealt with Catalan psychiatrist Francesc Tosquelles, a figure at the crossroad of anti-authoritarian policies, the emergence of Institutional Psychotherapy and the Postwar European cultural avantgarde. Since 2022 he is a founding member of Ateneu Tosquelles (Fundació CPB Serveis de Salut Mental) in Barcelona. Guerra teaches film and museum studies at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He is currently a member of the Collège de photographie et image animée of the Centre Nationale d’Arts Plastiques CNAP in France. He is former director of La Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Chief Curator of MACBA Contemporary Art Museum of Barcelona and executive director of the Fundació Antoni Tàpies.

Joana Masó is a literary critic whose work focuses on the crossover between literature, art, and philosophy. She is a senior lecturer at Barcelona University, and the UNESCO chair, Women, Development and Cultures. She has curated exhibitions and published books on art, literature and philosophy, like Hélène Cixous’s essays in Poetry in Painting. Writings on Contemporary Arts and Aesthetics (Edinbourg UP, 2012) and Jacques Derrida’s, Thinking out of sight. Writings on the Arts of the Visible (The University of Chicago Press, 2021). Since 2017, she has coordinated the research project “The forgotten legacy of François Tosquelles”, and she has published Tosquelles. Curing the Institutions (Semiotext(e) and Divided, 2025).

Valérie Rousseau, Ph.D., is Curatorial Chair for Exhibitions & Senior Curator at the American Folk Art Museum, New York. She overviewed critically acclaimed exhibitions, notably Willem van Genk: Mind Traffic(2014), When the Curtain Never Comes Down (AAMC award, 2015), Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet (2015), Photo|Brut (2021), Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered (2022), as well as projects on the legacy of Francesc Tosquelles, the concomitance of psychiatric and artistic avant-gardes (FACE Foundation Curatorial Fellowship “Étant Donnés,” 2019), neurodiversity (IMLS, 2023–2025), art brut literature, art environments, and artists like William Edmondson, Eugen Gabritschevsky, and Madalena Santos Reinbolt.She authored Bill Traylor (FILAF award, 2018), “Regarder par les failles de ce monde: Intersections de l’art brut et de l’art populaire” (Les cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne, 2024), and guest edited the issue “The Fate of Self-Taught Art” (The Brooklyn Rail, 2018). In 2022, she participated in the seminar “Showing/Searching: art brut and its archival impulse” of the Bibliothèque Kandinsky Summer University (Centre Pompidou, Paris).


Left: Romain Vigouroux, Francesc Tosquelles on the Roof of a Building at the Saint-Alban Psychiatric Hospital, Holding a Sculpture by Auguste Forestier, 1947, gelatin silver print, 7 x 4 7/8 in. Collection Family Ou-Rabah Tosquelles. Right: Marguerite Sirvins, Untitled, c. 1941, embroidered silk thread on fabric, 8 5/8 x 10 in. Collection Famille Ou-Rabah Tosquelles.

1:00 pm–2:15 pm

Virtual; free with registration

Register Here