Outsider art is work produced outside the mainstream of modern art by self-taught visionaries, spiritualists, eccentrics, recluses, psychiatric patients, criminals and others beyond the perceived margins of society. Coined in 1972 the term is derived from art brut', which the artist Jean Dubuffet began promoting just after the Second World War. Both focus on the idea of a raw', untaught creativity, which is still a contentious and much-debated issue. Is this a natural phenomenon, requiring only the right circumstances (isolation or alienation) to be revealed; or is it more like a mirage projected by the very culture it is supposed to be escaping from? Behind the polemic and the commercial hype lies a cluster of assumptions about creative drives, the expression of inner worlds, radical originality and the artist's social or psychological eccentricity. Although Outsider art is often presented as a recent discovery, these ideas belong to a tradition that goes back to the Renaissance, when the modern image of the artist began to take shape. If Outsiders are in some way outside' the conventional art world, what happens to them, and to the works they create, when they are introduced to it? David Maclagan has been writing on Outsider art for over twenty-five years, and this book sets out to challenge many of the received ideas in the field. This book will be of interest to the growing number of people interested in the field of Outsider art, and all those studying concepts of artistic creativity and their cultural background.