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In response to the 60th Venice Biennale on the theme of “strangers everywhere,” curated by general commissioner Adriano Pedrosa, we wanted to bring together within the gallery the same exceptional quartet of artists: Aloïse Corbaz, Madge Gill, Leopold Strobl, and Anna Zemánková. The little venice exhibition brings together more than thirty works, most of which are being presented to the public for the first time. This unprecedented exhibition allows the genius of these leading artists—defended by the gallery for nearly 20 years in some cases—to engage in intimate dialogue.

The 60th Venice Biennale has just opened its doors on the theme of “Strangers Everywhere.” Adriano Pedrosa, the general curator, outlines its scope: “The queer artist, who has moved within different sexualities and genders, often persecuted or outlawed; the outsider artist, who finds themselves on the margins of the art world, like the autodidact and the so-called folk artist; as well as the indigenous artist, often treated as a stranger in their own country.”
Here, the notion of the stranger is akin to that of “the other,” a minority yet global, which society must not only take into consideration but which it has a duty to protect and valorize. It is primarily according to these criteria that works by these four brut artists, already endorsed by institutions such as Pompidou or MoMA, have been selected: Anna Zemánková, Madge Gill, Aloïse Corbaz, and Leopold Strobl.
The otherness of the first two is manifested, for one, by an almost mystical relationship with creation, and for the other, by the fact that she attributed her productions to the intervention of spirit entities. As for the latter two, their productions rather suggest exceptionally fertile mental disturbances.
However, unlike the other typologies of “strangers” highlighted in this Biennale, the brut artist does not define themselves because of belonging or exclusion. Nor do they claim membership in a community of supposedly “outsider” artists. Their individuality, their singularity, always takes precedence over the collective. In this sense, they do not create to rebel against an ostracism they would suffer, but they build, through the power of their imagination, a world that resembles them.
“There exists a point of the spirit from which… the real and the imaginary… will cease to be perceived as contradictory,” wrote André Breton in the Surrealist Manifesto. And it is precisely there that the raw artists stand. Where their incandescent difference fuses the real and the imaginary.

little venice - © christian berst — art brut
little venice - © christian berst — art brut
little venice - © christian berst — art brut
little venice - © christian berst — art brut
little venice - © christian berst — art brut
Please contact us to inquire about the available works.
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
Madge Gill untitled, 1940
5.51 x 3.15 in
aloïse corbaz - © alfred bader, christian berst — art brut


A major figure in Art Brut, Aloïse Corbaz created over 2,000 drawings, most of them double-sided, in an asylum setting. This woman, who dreamed of being an opera singer and was an eternal romantic, had an almost mystical relationship with her work, which was admired by Jean Dubuffet. Today, her work is part of major collections such as the American Folk Art Museum, the National Museum of Modern Art, and the Collection de l’Art Brut.

Madge Gill - © christian berst — art brut

Madge Gill

The works of Madge Gill, a mediumistic artist from the mid-20th century, were collected by Jean Dubuffet. Guided by a spirit and in a trance state, Madge Gill drew in ink on surfaces ranging from small formats to rolls of over a hundred meters. Her entire body of work was only discovered after she died in 1961. Today considered a key figure in outsider art, her works can be found in major European and North American collections: American Folk Art Museum (New York, USA), the Museum of Everything (UK), Arnulf Rainer Collection (Austria), Damman (Switzerland), etc. In 2024, her works are presented at the Venice Biennale curated by Adriano Pedrosa.

anna zemankova - © christian berst — art brut

Anna Zemánková

It was in the early 1960s that this Moravian woman began producing a body of work for which her humble background had not prepared her and which responded strikingly to injunctions from the innermost depths. Thus, at a time when the demons of the night were still competing with the seminal iridescence of dawn, she would gather strange flowers in her mind before drawing them forth on paper. ‘‘I grow flowers that don’t grow anywhere else,’’ she used to say. Anna Zemánková is already an established figure in the art brut, so much so that in 2013 she was honored at the 55th Venice Biennale before an important group of her works joined the collections of the Centre Pompidou and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2020.

leopold strobl, gugging - © marco prenninger, christian berst — art brut

Leopold Strobl

Leopold Strobl has been part of Gugging (Austria) for the last ten years, finding comfort and redemption in art, a way of holding his mental demons off. He draws with colored pencil on small-format. Crafted on landscape photographs found in newspapers, his drawings are similar to magnetic portals. Strobl is part of the Museum Of Modern Art (New York) collections since 2018, his work was presented the following year in the exhibition Photo | Brut at the Rencontres d’Arles.

little venice aloïse corbaz, madge gill, leopold strobl, anna zemánková
little venice - © christian berst — art brut

catalog published for the exhibition
little venice
exhibited artists: aloïse corbaz, madge gill, leopold strobl, anna zemánková
from may 18th to june 15th, 2024
foreword: christian berst

to get the catalog: click here

little venice

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