Want to explore this year’s New York Outsider Art Fair? You can do it virtually

Two works by Daniel Johnston: (left) "Ha Ha Ha," 1998, and "Oh Lord Please Don't Be Misunderstood," (2002)
(The Daniel Johnston Trust)

The fair, which showcases the work of self-taught artists, is an indie favorite


New York’s Outsider Art Fair is staging a hybrid online and in-person event this year. The fair, which showcases the work of self-taught artists, is an indie favorite. Explore the 26 pages of virtual gallery space filled with art at every price range.

Experiencing art virtually is no replacement for the real thing, but consider this a tasty appetizer in a year of artistic famine.

See it at Registration is required to enter the viewing rooms.


The headliner: ‘Daniel Johnston: Psychedelic Drawings’

A highlight this year is a large show of visual artist and musician Daniel Johnston’s art at the Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village. This exhibit, the first since his death in 2019 of what was believed to be a heart attack, was curated by fellow visual artist and musician Gary Panter. The works feature Johnston’s trademark technicolor palette and superhero sensibilities.

Daniel Johnston, "Advertisements," 1979
Daniel Johnston, “Advertisements,” 1979
(The Daniel Johnston Trust)

Pick: “Advertisements,” 1979, ink and marker on paper; $6,000

Why: Detailed line work and a disciplined execution makes this early work by the Sacramento-born Johnston unlike the others.


Della Wells

The beautiful collages of Milwaukee-born Della Wells are windows into a magical world. Inspired by her mother’s childhood in North Carolina, identity, race and gender politics are often themes in her colorful pieces.

Della Wells, “I say it is my freedom day” 2020
Della Wells, “I say it is my freedom day” 2020

Pick: “I Say It Is My Freedom Day,” 2020; $1,600

Why: This large collage — 18 inches by 24 inches — looks more urban than folk and speaks to themes that are particularly relevant today.


High/Low with Bill Traylor and Jack Savitsky

Bill Traylor: In 2013, San Diego got its first glimpse of the work of Bill Traylor. The show at the Mingei International Museum featured 60 rarely seen artworks. At the time, the Union-Tribune’s Ann Jarmusch wrote, “Today, Traylor is considered one of the world’s most important ‘outsider,’ or self-trained, artists.”

Bill Traylor, Untitled (Construction with Figures) about 1939-42
Bill Traylor, Untitled (Construction with Figures) about 1939-42

Pick: “Untitled (Construction with Figures),” about 1939-42; $135,000

Why: The fair features a few expensive works by Traylor, but this is by far the best.

Jack Savitsky: Much like Traylor, Jack Savitsky started his art career late. After working as a coal miner for 35 years, he began drawing and painting the life and people of Lansford, Pa.

Jack Savitsky, "Untitled," 1979
Jack Savitsky, “Untitled,” 1979

Pick: “Untitled,” 1979; $250

Why: For an artist with work in the Smithsonian, the Museum of American Folk Art in New York and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C., this beautiful and graphic piece is a steal.


W. Tucker

When artist W. Tucker talks about his artistic process, he tells it to you straight. “There’s nothing wrong with using your intellect, it’s just not the way I choose to go about it or where I start from. I’m trying to get to that energy that a kid has. I’m starting from that zero space.” Indeed.

W. Tucker, "Car on black & yellow," 2020
W. Tucker, “Car on black & yellow,” 2020

Pick: “Car on black & yellow,” 2020; $500

Why: Because who can afford a Basquiat?


Louis DeMarco

This Chicago artist infuses humor into life’s emotional maze.

Louis DeMarco, “Do yourself a Favor,” 2019

Pick: “Do yourself a favor,” 2019; $150

Why: Kind of a lo-fi Ed Ruscha