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Ella Flavell

Visual Arts, University of Warwick

Thesis title:

Living Roots: Art Brut Within and Without the Western Art World, 1930-1988

Art Brut, produced by psychiatric patients, ‘isolated’ individuals, and the self taught, has long found itself excluded from the art historical canon upon which it had such a profound impact. Offering a visual language seemingly untainted by ‘cultural conditioning,’ Art Brut played a key role in the development of Avant Gardes on both sides of the Atlantic. Framed by the collections of Jean Dubuffet, André Breton, and Alain Bourbonnais, this project asks how an idea of Art Brut was constructed, adopted, and exploited within modernist circles. It questions and challenges the ways in which Art Brut has been historicised, asking how the canonical, Western narrative of modern art changes when these practices are reassessed. In doing so this project aims to demonstrate that rather than an anonymous adjunct to such narratives, Art Brut occupied a pivotal and essential position within them. 

Research Area

  • Art History
  • Visual Arts


Ella Flavell, “'The Distance from Dream to Reality': Ferdinand Cheval in the Surrealist Imagination, 1924-1945,” Aspectus, no. 3 (Fall 2021): 1-20. https://doi.org/10.15124/yao-b4y5-jv63.

Other Research Interests

  • Outsider Art Environments
  • Art Brut
  • Religious art of the 20th Century
  • Folk Art and practices