press release

The Kunsthal Rotterdam is proud to present The Museum of Everything, a major overview of the work of more than one hundred international so-called outsider artists.

Famous for its powerful and emotive installations, The Museum of Everything celebrates private and nonacademic
art-makers whose creations remain independent of art history and language. The exhibition invites the audience to discover the mighty fairy-tale panoramas of Chicago janitor Henry Darger, the recycled kingdom of visionary Indian roads-engineer Nek Chand Saini, the towering visions of Chinese factory worker Guo Fengyi, and Sam Doyle, the African-American whose graphic visual histories inspired Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The exhibition also includes some of the mid-20th century authors made famous by the artist Jean Dubuffet, such as Augustin Lesage, the miner and spiritualist, and the anonymous faces known as Les BarbusMüller. More recent discoveries include Romanian street collagist Ion Bîrlădeanu and Japanese wrestling fanatic Tomoyuki Shinki. There are artists from the Netherlands too, from the self-obsessed biographic illustrator Willem Van Genk, to emerging studio creators like Marianne Schipaanboord and Paulus de Groot. Throughout the exhibition, these artworks are accompanied by easy-to-read essays from internationally renowned artists, including David Byrne, Ed Ruscha, Marlene Dumas, John Baldessari, Christian Boltanski and many more.

Breaking the Rules
The Museum of Everything is not a typical art experience. The design of its shows are created in collaboration with Oscar nominated production designer Eve Stewart (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables etc.) and have welcomed over 750,000 visitors worldwide. These careful installations lead the visitor deep into the private worlds of unconventional creators, where the established rules of art are replaced by the visual language of dream, ritual and detail. Within The Museum of Everything there are no limits to the possibilities of the imagination.

Equal Rights for All Artists
The terms outsider art, naïve art, disabled art and primitive art are often used to describe the work of people who create outside the conventional art circuit. The Museum of Everything does not use these categories to define its artists. It speaks instead of private art-makers, non-academic creators and “the undiscovered, unintentional, untrained and unclassified artists of the modern era”. For The Museum of Everything is not just an exhibition, it is a philosophy for cultural equality. The British founder of The Museum of Everything, James Brett, speaks about this with a missionary zeal: “Imitators and false messiahs, take heed ... there is no such thing as outsider art! We must reject all discriminatory definitions and fight instead for the universal rights of visual expression … and not just for the few, but for all!”

Exceptional Talent, Extraordinary Imagination
Over the past few decades, the art world in the Netherlands has grown increasingly interested in the work of self-taught artists who display exceptional imagination and extraordinary talent. After major exhibitions in Paris, Moscow, Venice and London, the Kunsthal is proud to bring The Museum of Everything to Rotterdam. The exhibition promises to be one of the most important of its kind in Europe and the first on such a grand scale in the Netherlands. One room in particular is dedicated to the life’s work of Henry Darger, the most famous of the American discoveries. His monumental illustrations are shown here in series, revealing for the first time a visual storyline which was destroyed when his books were separated and sold for profit. Another space will house a towering corridor of painted scrolls by the Chinese factory worker Guo Fengyi. This visionary artist used her creative energies to balance the toxic illness from which she eventually died. Yet her legend lives on and has been showcased in recent years at the Hayward in London, the Carnegie International in Pittsburgh and the 2013 Venice Biennale.

The Symposium of Everything
An accompanying satellite programme will take place at the Kunsthal Rotterdam and at various partner museums, art galleries, academies and universities throughout the show, including the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Cobra Museum in Amstelveen and the Dolhuys Museum of Psychiatry in Haarlem. On 16 and 17 April2016, the Kunsthal Rotterdam will also host The Weekend of Everything with workshops, lectures, guided tours, films, music and an open call for DIY art by all artists of all ages from right across the country. The Artists of Everything The Museum of Everything includes work by the artists Ion Bîrlădeanu, Morton Bartlett, James Castle, Henry Darger, Sam Doyle, William Edmondson, Guo Fengyi, Willem van Genk, Paulus de Groot, Paul Laffoley, Augustin Lesage, Aleksander Lobanov, Martín Ramírez, Vasilij Romanenkov, Nek Chand Saini, Marianne Schipaanboord, Tomoyuki Shinki, Marcel Storr, George Widener, Scottie Wilson and many others. The exhibition is a collaboration between Kunsthal Rotterdam and The Museum of Everything and was made possible with the support of the Gieskes Strijbis Fonds .

The Museum of Everything is a pioneering British organisation dedicated to private art practices and non-academic art making. With its installations around the world, the museum functions not only as an exhibitor, but as an archive, activist and advocate. It regularly collaborates with artists, curators, writers and thinkers, as well as other cultural institutions. The Museum of Everything produces its own publications, films and retail goods and has an award-winning online identity. It is credited as being one of the main inspirations for the 55th Venice Biennale and was recently profiled by the BBC in Imagine: Turning the Art World Inside Out (2013). The Museum of Everything is strictly non-commercial. It is dedicated to the exhibition, advancement and integration of its artists and the belief that all have the right to the title of artist ... no matter who they are or where they are from.