"I want to replace Western art with that of the jungle, the lavatory, the mental institution --- l'art brut."

-Jean Dubuffet

The French painter Jean Dubuffet coined the term "Art Brut" (literally "rough (or raw) art") meaning art outside the accepted fine art sphere; the term could be considered as synonymous with "outsider art" but it is generally used to refer to that subset of "outsider art" created by socially marginalised artists such as the mentally ill, imprisoned or geographically isolated.

While many of the artists characterized by Dubuffet as "Art Brut" were psychiatric patients, he was the first to deal with the art of psychiatric patients on its own merit, as opposed to for exclusively psychoanalytic purposes. It was Dubuffet who said 'There is no art of the insane any more than there is an art of dyspeptics, or an art of people with knee complaints'.

In 1947 Dubuffet founded the Foyer de l 'Art Brut, which he set up in the basement of a gallery in Paris where he began arranging exhibitions. A year later the foyer was moved to the pavilion of a publishing firm, and the Compagnie de l 'Art Brut, a non-profit association, was launched with the support of the surrealist painter Andre Breton and others. Shortly after the second world war, Dubuffet was invited by the Swiss National Office of Tourism to visit Switzerland, where he discovered the works of Louis Soutter and Aloise Corbaz. By 1949, with a permanent curator, an exhibition of 200 works by 63 artists, mostly mental patients, was mounted.

As the collection was rapidly outgrowing its limited space, and there was some discussion of dissolving the whole association, in 1951 Dubuffet accepted an offer from the painter Alfonso Ossorio to install the collection in his large residence in East Hampton, near New York City.

By 1959, Dubuffet had acquired a large 4-story building in Paris and moved the collection back to France. In the 1960s the collection grew and Dubuffet initiated the publication of monographs on each of the principal creators in the collection.

In 1976, Dubuffet, anxious about finding a permanent public home for the collection accepted a proposal from the city of Lausanne, Switzerland to secure a permanent exhibition hall for changing exhibits and a study archive. This is what is now called La Collection de l'Art Brut-an "antimusée" (anti-museum).

Art Brut is a sort of non-movement in that those artists involved generally don't have contact with one another or share any common purpose or methodology; they only share their status of being outside the conventional art system.

Critics charge collectors of Art Brut works of exploiting the artists, though how they are any more exploited than "insider" artists is unclear.

Some artists grouped in the Art Brut category:

Jean Dubuffet
Adolf Wolfli
Martin Ramirez
Henry Darger
Madge Gill
Alfonso Ossorio
Aloise Corbaz

Here are a few "folk" artists:

Scottie Wilson
Grandma Moses
Howard Finster

Clearly this is an incomplete list; please msg me with any suggested additions.